Breaking: San Diego biotech company claims to have cure for COVID-19

Update: San Diego based Sorrento Theraputics is claiming to have discovered the STI-1499 antibody, which they say provides “100% inhibition” of COVID-19 in an interview with Fox News.

Following the release of the information, the company’s stock price has skyrocketed over 172%.

“We want to emphasize there is a cure. There is a solution that works 100 percent,” Dr. Henry Ji, founder and CEO of Sorrento Therapeutics, told Fox News. “If we have the neutralizing antibody in your body, you don’t need the social distancing. You can open up a society without fear.”

Gary Robbins, Jonathan Wosen

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Sorrento Therapeutics of San Diego said Friday that an antibody it has been developing proved highly effective in blocking the novel coronavirus in laboratory experiments — a possible first step in the creation of a drug cocktail to battle COVID-19.

The antibody, known as STI-1499, performed well even though it was used at a concentration 10- to 100-fold lower than antibodies used to treat other diseases, the company said.

STI-1499 is one of more than a billion antibodies that Sorrento Therapeutics has been examining in an effort to find an effective treatment against a virus that has killed more than 85,000 people in the U.S.

Even the most optimistic timelines estimate that it will take a year or two to have a COVID-19 vaccine. In the meantime, Sorrento Therapeutics believes antibodies could be an important stopgap. These Y-shaped immune proteins latch onto the surface of a virus and, if they grip tightly enough at just the right spot, block infection.

“What we’re trying to achieve is to provide assurance to the public that you have something that’s going to protect you, and protect you immediately,” said Henry Ji, chairman and CEO of Sorrento.

The recent finding, based on measuring infection of cells in the lab, will need to be confirmed in animal studies. The company plans to test whether STI-1499 prevents infection in monkeys and possibly ferrets — two species that are susceptible to the virus. If all goes well, Sorrento Therapeutics could begin testing the antibody in clinical trials of severe COVID-19 patients by mid-July, Ji says.

Sorrento thinks STI-1499 could work both as a stand-alone treatment or as part of an antibody cocktail that targets three different parts of the virus. The hope is that it would be harder for the coronavirus to develop resistance to three antibodies than to one; drugs used against cancer and HIV are often delivered as combinations for this reason.


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