AstraZeneca starts new COVID-19 prevention trials of antibody cocktail | CBC News

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

The Phase III worldwide scientific trial will recruit a complete of 5,000 folks throughout nations in Europe and the United States to evaluate the protection and effectiveness of the antibody cocktail, often known as AZD7442.

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

In Britain, the place the trials of the monoclonal antibody mixture kicked off on Saturday, 1,000 contributors might be recruited at 9 websites, researchers main the UK arm stated.

“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,” stated stated Andrew Ustianowski, a professor and chief investigator on the UK research.

“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 struggle off an infection. They may be synthesized within the laboratory and are already used to deal with some varieties of most cancers.

AstraZeneca stated its COVID-19 cocktail — which mixes two monoclonal antibodies— has the potential each to deal with and forestall illness development in sufferers already contaminated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and to be given as a preventative treatment previous to folks corresponding to 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 government vice chairman of biopharmaceuticals R&D, instructed reporters at a briefing.

He stated 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 contributors in trials in Europe and the United States.

U.S. funding

The U.S. authorities 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 authorities additionally has an in-principle settlement with AstraZeneca which it says secures entry to 1,000,000 doses of AZD7442 whether it is profitable in Phase III trials.

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

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