Yesterday, the industry-leading pharma released a statement that their antibodies, AZD7442, have been successfully administered to the study’s first participants. The clinical trial is involving up to 48 healthy participants in the UK, all aged between 18 to 55 years old; and is currently being backed by an agency connected to the US Department of Defense. The clinical study, labeled NCT04507256, is a phase 1, first time in human, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, and dose escalation clinical trial that looks to evaluate the product’s safety and tolerability. With a data readout anticipated in the second half of 2020, we should know pretty soon as to whether or not this mode of treatment is viable for fighting the virus on a global scale.
The compound’s premise is that it aims to mimic natural antibodies that appear to be failing to fight against the coronavirus; and, in turn, help the body help itself. So, if successful, we could be looking at a means of not only preventing the infection in the future, but also tackling active cases of the disease.
If the compound were to pass initial testing, AstraZeneca has announced that they intend to progress it into larger, late-stage phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials. The aim of this clinical research will look to evaluate the antibodies’ efficacy as both a potential preventative measure and a treatment for COVID-19.
“This trial is an important milestone in the development of our monoclonal antibody combination to prevent or treat COVID-19. This combination of antibodies, coupled to our proprietary half-life extension technology, has the potential to improve both the effectiveness and durability of use in addition to reducing the likelihood of viral resistance.”
- Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D.
This news comes only days after Head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, suggested that COVID-19 pandemic may not be controlled for another two years. Speaking in Geneva, Dr Tedros also predicts that the virus may never fully be eradicated; and that, like the flu, people may need to be re-vaccinated at regular intervals. This advice is inline with that of Prof Sir Mark Walport, a member of the UK's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), who on Saturday said that Covid-19 was "going to be with us forever in some form or another".
AstraZeneca’s antibodies should play their part in controlling the disease in the meantime. If initial clinical research is successful, the half-life extended mAbs should afford at least six months of protection from COVID-19. According to a recent article by Nature, the antibodies were shown preclinically to block the binding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to host cells and protect against infection in cell and animal models of disease. This news is promising in a time where COVID clinical trials are facing intense pressure to produce results; and with the initial September deadline predicted by a research group at the University of Oxford on the horizon, we should have a better understanding of what stage clinical research is at in the next few weeks.
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