Temasek-backed Tychan to start human trials next week for COVID-19 treatment

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s Tychan, a biotechnology firm backed by state investor Temasek Holdings, said it will begin human clinical trials next week for a potential monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19.

The first phase of the trial to be conducted on 23 healthy volunteers will take about six weeks to evaluate the safety and tolerability of TY027 - a monoclonal antibody that specifically targets SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Antibodies are generated in the body to fight off infection. Monoclonal antibodies mimic natural antibodies and can be isolated and manufactured in large quantities to treat diseases in patients.

Many scientists and researchers believe antibody-based therapies hold great promise for treating people already infected with the disease.

“We will continue with the fast pace of development as we are conscious that a day saved is a day less of misery,” said Teo Ming Kian, chairman of Tychan. He added that the company reached human trials in four months, when it would usually take 12-18 months.

TY027 is being explored for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 to slow the progression of the disease and accelerate recovery, as well as for its potential to provide temporary protection against infection with SARS-CoV-2.

After passing key milestones in the first phase trial, Tychan will seek approval from the Singapore regulator to expand TY027 to a larger population of COVID-19 volunteer patients to establish its efficacy.

Temasek Holdings is the founding investor of Tychan, which has previously developed therapeutic treatments for zika and yellow fever.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie in Singapore; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Stephen Coates