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New plasma-derived therapy for Covid-19 on the horizon: Takeda

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 04, 2020

See through: The coronaviruses have so-called spike proteins sticking out of their coats   -  istock.com

Japanese drug major Takeda is working on a plasma-derived therapy to treat coronavirus (Covid-19). The therapy, which it refers to as TAK-888, is an anti-SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal hyperimmune globulin (H-IG) to treat high-risk individuals with Covid-19, said a company release.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes Covid-19.

Takeda is also studying whether its currently marketed and pipeline products may be effective treatments for infected patients.

Treatment option

Hyper immune globulins are plasma-derived therapies that have previously been shown to be effective in the treatment of severe acute viral respiratory infections and may be a treatment option for Covid-19, said the release.

“As a company dedicated to the health and well-being of people around the world, we will do all that we can to address the novel coronavirus threat,” said Rajeev Venkayya, President of Takeda’s Vaccine Business Unit and co-lead of the company’s Covid-19 response team. “We have identified relevant assets and capabilities across the company and are hopeful that we can expand the treatment options for patients with Covid-19 and the providers caring for them.”

Takeda is currently in discussions with multiple national health and regulatory agencies and healthcare partners in the US, Asia, and Europe to expeditiously move the research into TAK-888 forward. This requires access to source plasma from people who have successfully recovered from Covid-19, or who have been vaccinated, once a vaccine is developed. These convalescent donors have developed antibodies to the virus that could potentially mitigate the severity of the illness in Covid-19 patients, and possibly prevent it, the release said.

How the therapy works

H-IG works by concentrating the pathogen-specific antibodies from plasma collected from recovered patients (or vaccinated donors, in the future). By transferring the antibodies to a new patient, it may help that person’s immune system respond to the infection and increase his/her chance of recovery. Because the plasma needed for TAK-888 is unlikely to come from current plasma donors, Takeda will initially produce the therapy in a segregated area within its manufacturing facility in Georgia, and its development and production should not negatively impact Takeda’s ability to produce its other plasma-derived therapies, said the release.

“Plasma-derived therapies are critical, life-saving medicines that thousands of people with rare and complex diseases rely on every day around the world,” said Chris Morabito, Takeda’s Head of Research and Development, Plasma-Derived Therapies Business Unit.

In addition, Takeda is exploring whether select marketed therapies and molecules in its drug library could be viable candidates for the effective treatment of Covid-19. These efforts are at an early stage but being given a high priority within the company.

Covid-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which can cause pneumonia and has resulted in more than 3,000 deaths globally since its recent discovery. To date, there are no approved vaccines or therapies to prevent or treat Covid-19.

Published on March 04, 2020

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