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Regeneron Surges After Identifying Coronavirus Antibodies

Regeneron said it could produce 'hundreds of thousands' of does per month by the end of the summer if trials of its cocktail coronavirus treatment prove successful.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals REGN shares extended gains Tuesday after the drugmaker said its ready to start the 'large-scale' manufacturing of a cocktail therapy coronavirus treatment after identifying hundreds of virus-neutralizing antibodies.

The potential breakthrough followed its announcement yesterday that it will be clinical trials of another coronavirus treatment, a rheumatoid arthritis drug known as Kevzara, which it has developed with France's Sanofi SA SNY, as companies around the world race for a vaccine to help combat the novel COVID-19 virus that has infected more than 182,000 people and killed more than 7,100.

"In order to meet the pressing public health need, Regeneron is applying its VelociMab technology to prepare manufacturing-ready cell lines as lead antibodies are selected, so that clinical-scale production can begin immediately," the company said in a statement. "The company is working toward the goal of producing hundreds of thousands of prophylactic doses per month by the end of summer and hopes to have smaller quantities available for initial clinical testing at the beginning of the summer." 

"The company is working with the U.S. Health & Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Defense Authority (BARDA) to increase capacity even further," Regeneron said.

Regeneron shares were marked 12.4% higher in early trading Tuesday to change hands at $496.00 each, a move that would extend the stock's six-month gain to around 72%. 

Moderna Inc. MRNA shares, meanwhile, spiked 11.15% in pre-market trading to $29.44 each after the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech said it dosed its first coronavirus patient yesterday with its nascent MRNA-1273 treatment.

Last week, Israel's Can-Fite Biopharama CANF its lead drug, Piclidenoson, could be used to those suffering from coronavirus symptoms following China's approval of Roche AG's rheumatoid arthritis treatment, Actemra, in patients with severe lung damage.

Gilead Sciences GILD is also studying the effectiveness of its antiviral remdesivir drug in China, with test results expected next month.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield told lawmakers on a House appropriations panel that remdesivir, Gilead's developing coronavirus treatment, was being used on compassionate grounds in Washington state.