17:25 GMT21 September 2020
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    American pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Company announced Monday that it has started a third-phase trial of its COVID-19 antiviral drug known as LY-CoV555.

    The study is being conducted in partnership with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and will involve around 2,400 participants. 

    The study participants will include vulnerable residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

    The participants will receive a single dose of LY-CoV555, which is a monoclonal antibody treatment directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

    Research suggests that the coronavirus invades human cells through the spike protein, which acts as an entryway. LY-CoV555 is intended to block the virus from attaching to and entering human cells, preventing it from multiplying.

    "COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on nursing home residents. We're working as fast as we can to create medicines that might stop the spread of the virus to these vulnerable individuals," said Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly's chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories, in a Monday news release. 

    “While it's not easy to conduct clinical trials in this setting, we're taking on the challenge in an effort to help those who need us the most.”

    "We are grateful to the NIAID team for their exceptional partnership on this innovative trial and we are deeply appreciative of the care facilities, their staff and the many residents who will be participating in this important study,” Skovronsky added.

    To conduct the clinical trial at the long-term care facilities, Eli Lilly has created customized, mobile research units to be used on site. The units include “a custom retrofitted recreational vehicle (RV) to support mobile labs and clinical trial material preparation, along with a trailer truck that will deliver all clinical trial supplies needed to create an on-site infusion clinic,” the news release explains. Furthermore, additional staff will be deployed at the facilities to help conduct the trials.

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