AstraZeneca Launches New Antibody Cocktail COVID-19 Prevention Trials

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AstraZeneca has started late-stage trials of an experimental combination of long-acting monoclonal antibodies that it hopes could be used as a so-called prophylactic to prevent COVID-19 infection in those at risk for a period of up to 12 months.The international Phase 3 clinical trial will recruit a total of 5,000 people across countries in Europe and the United States to assess the safety and efficacy of the cocktail of antibodies, known as AZD7442.

Prophylactic treatment differs from a vaccine in that it introduces antibodies, rather than causing the body’s immune system to make them. It may be useful in people with weaker or compromised immune systems who do not respond to vaccination. In addition, AstraZeneca is developing a COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with researchers at the University of Oxford.

In Britain, where trials of the combination of monoclonal antibodies began on Saturday, 1,000 participants will be recruited from nine sites, researchers at the head of the UK branch said.

“What we are studying in this study is whether we can provide protection by giving antibodies that neutralize the virus, by injection into the muscle,” said Andrew Ustianowski, professor and chief investigator of the UK study.

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

Monoclonal antibodies mimic the natural antibodies the body generates to fight infection. They can be synthesized in the lab and are already being used to treat some types of cancer.

AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 cocktail – which combines two monoclonal antibodies – has the potential to both treat and prevent disease progression in patients already infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and to be given as a preventative medicine before people such as health workers exposed to the virus.

“These were designed 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 , executive vice president of AstraZeneca R&D on biopharmaceuticals, told reporters during a briefing.

He said it made the cocktail, “in fact, almost like a passive vaccination.”

Along with the 5,000-participant trial evaluating the drug’s potential as a preventative, AstraZeneca also plans to evaluate AZD7442 as a post-exposure preventive and preventive treatment in around 1,100 trial participants in Europe and the States. -United.

American investment

The US government last month granted AstraZeneca US $ 486 million to expand and secure the supply of up to 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 cocktail.

The UK government also has an agreement in principle with AstraZeneca which it says guarantees access to one million doses of AZD7442 if it succeeds in phase 3 trials.

As part of a plan to build a global production network, Astra enlisted contract manufacturer Lonza in October to produce the drug in Portsmouth, NH, starting in the first half of 2021.

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