” We thought the summer would be quieter. “Faced with the new epidemic outbreak, Odile Duvaux quickly became disillusioned. In recent weeks, the boss of Xenothera has made a series of phone calls. From the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM), the French government, the European Union, and a host of foreign countries. “We are solicited from everywhere”, she notes. At the end of the line, the same question: ” Where are you ? “ A pride for the Nantes biotech, which has just started the production of its treatment against Covid-19, a polyclonal antibody called XAV-19. ” Our product is now in phase 3 testing. If all goes well, it could be licensed, and used, this fall. », Explains Odile Duvaux.
A great opportunity for the young company. Because if the vaccine race – the main weapon in the fight against Covid-19 – already has its champions, that of treatments is still looking for its winners. There is no shortage of candidates in search of a miracle cure. Researchers, biotechs and large pharmaceutical companies have all mobilized. Since the start of the health crisis, more than 3,300 clinical trials focusing on the search for treatments – of which nearly 1,600 are still in progress – have thus been identified around the world. But the therapeutic arsenal against Covid-19 is still very thin.
“We now know better how to repair the damage caused by the virus, for example by using dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, but there is still no treatment on the market that directly attacks the virus. Research has advanced a lot, however, and it is hoped that more drugs will arrive over the next six months. “, observes Bruno Canard, CNRS research director at Aix-Marseille University. The European Union has also set itself the objective of authorizing at least three new treatments by the end of the year.
Anticipate the next crises
The stake is not insignificant. Because if vaccines have so far constituted an effective shield, nothing excludes new, more dangerous variants from escaping their protective net in the future. It is also a matter of protecting immunocompromised, cancer or transplant patients, for whom vaccination is less effective, and who are more at risk of developing a serious form of the disease. ” The treatments are a complementary tool, which will also be used to anticipate the next crises. It is already the third coronavirus to appear in the space of twenty years. We are not immune that another emerges in the next few years », Underlines Jean Dubuisson, CNRS researcher at the Institut Pasteur in Lille.
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