HHS partners with pharmaceutical company on coronavirus cure

As scientists around the world race to cure the new strain of coronavirus, some in New York said they’re on their way.

The Department of Health and Human Services partnered with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, New York. Scientists said the coronavirus likely started from animals, but Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said mice could be the fix.

“We’ve created something that's almost science fiction. We've literally created micro humans or micro human immune systems inside of laboratory mice. And so these mice actually respond just like humans,” said the president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron, Dr. George D. Yancopoulos.

Scientists will synthesize a part of the virus, inject the DNA into the mice, then wait for the animals to respond by making antibodies against a specific pathogen. “Thousands of these mice get the best responders that mount the best immune response that fights off the virus. And now we can clone it out. And it's a pure human response,” Yancopoulos said.

The term "coronavirus" refers to the family of viruses. Corona means crown, which refers to the so-called spikes that stick out from the protein. “These are the things that are used by the virus to attach to a human cell,” Yancopoulos continued. “The goal is, if you could block these spikes, then it would have nothing to stick on to the human cell and it would be rendered noninfectious”.


In the lab, scientists recreated 2019-nCoV, the infectious strain, with a digital DNA map uploaded by China.

“We have a proven rapid response platform that has proven that we can actually work against some of the most horrific infectious disease epidemics of our time like Ebola,” Yancopoulos said.

During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals used this same method to create a treatment used when the illness flared up years later in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Scientists say they hope to replicate that model, however creating the perfect cocktail combination for humans could take eight months to a year.

Already, the infectious agent has killed more than 600 people and infected more than 30,000.


“We sincerely hope, obviously, that the number of people will go dramatically down. However, we're working very hard to come up with something that could actually treat these people,” said Yancopoulos.