A lab at UW-Madison’s Waisman Center started manufacturing a new drug to treat COVID-19 patients, the university announced Wednesday.
Waisman Biomanufacturing is working with GigaGen, a California-based biotechnology company, on a drug that uses an approach similar to treating COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma, or blood products from people recovering from an infection.
The drug, called GIGA-2050, is “one of the most exciting manufacturing challenges we have encountered,” Waisman Biomanufacturing director Carl Ross said in a university announcement.
GigaGen screened blood donated by people recovering from COVID-19 and found large variation in the amount of antibodies among patients. Antibodies are proteins created by the immune system to detect and fight off a virus.
Manufacturing of the drug relies upon a technique that involves genetically engineering cells to produce many thousands of different antibodies that bind to the virus.
Waisman scientists will analyze and purify the results to manufacture into a drug product for GigaGen. The company creates a variety of antibody drugs for infectious diseases and cancers.
GigaGen reports that lab tests show GIGA-2050 has been more protective against the virus than plasma. The company is planning multiple phases of testing, which will be produced by Waisman Biomanufacturing and a biotech company in Florida.
The Waisman Biomanufacturing center was created to facilitate development of new therapeutic drugs.
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