AstraZeneca begins new COVID-19 prevention trials of antibody cocktail

AstraZeneca has began late-stage trials of an experimental long-acting monoclonal antibody mixture drug it hopes may very well be used as a so-called prophylactic to forestall COVID-19 an infection in at-risk people for as much as 12 months.

The Phase III worldwide medical trial will recruit a complete of 5,000 people throughout international locations in Europe and the United States to evaluate the protection and effectiveness of the antibody cocktail, referred to as AZD7442.

The prophylactic therapy differs from a vaccine in that it introduces antibodies, slightly than prompting the physique’s immune system to make them. It could show helpful in people whose immune methods are weaker or compromised, and who do not reply to vaccination. Separately, AstraZeneca is growing a COVID-19 vaccine in conjunction with researchers at Oxford University.

In Britain, where the trials of the monoclonal antibody mixture kicked off on Saturday, 1,000 members will be recruited at 9 websites, researchers main the UK arm mentioned.

“What we are investigating in this study is whether we can provide protection by giving antibodies that have been shown to neutralize the virus, by injection into the muscle,” mentioned mentioned Andrew Ustianowski, a professor and chief investigator on the UK examine.

“The hope is that this will then provide good protection for many months against infection.”

Monoclonal antibodies mimic pure antibodies that the physique generates to combat off an infection. They could be synthesized within the laboratory and are already used to deal with some forms of most cancers.

AstraZeneca mentioned its COVID-19 cocktail — which combines two monoclonal antibodies— has the potential each to deal with and stop illness development in sufferers already contaminated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and to be given as a preventative treatment previous to people resembling health-care employees being uncovered to the virus.

“These have been engineered specifically to have what we call a long half-life, (so) we think they will confer protection for (at least) six, but more likely closer to 12 months,” Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s govt vp of biopharmaceuticals R&D, advised reporters at a briefing.

He mentioned this made the cocktail, “in effect, almost like a passive vaccination.”

Alongside the 5,000-participant trial assessing the drug’s potential as a preventative, AstraZeneca additionally plans to guage AZD7442 as a post-exposure preventative and pre-emptive therapy in roughly 1,100 members in trials in Europe and the United States.

U.S. funding

The U.S. government final month awarded $486 million US to AstraZeneca to develop and safe provides of as much as 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 cocktail.

The UK government additionally has an in-principle settlement with AstraZeneca which it says secures entry to one million doses of AZD7442 whether it is profitable in Phase III trials.

Under a plan to arrange a world manufacturing community, Astra in October enlisted contract producer Lonza to supply the drug in Portsmouth, N.H., beginning within the first half of 2021.

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