British–Swedish multinational biopharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca which is well known for its highly effective COVID-19 vaccine candidate co-developed with the University of Oxford, is working on an alternate solution to deal with the pandemic.
The firm has begun testing an antibody-based cocktail for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The study would evaluate if AZD7442, a combination of two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), was safe and tolerable in up to 48 healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 55 years.
Monoclonal antibodies mAbs mimic natural antibodies generated in the body restore, enhance the immune system’s attack on disease cells to fight off infection and can be synthesized in the laboratory to treat diseases in patients. Current uses include the treatment of some types of cancers.
Larger trails expected
AstraZeneca would move to test it as both a preventative treatment for COVID-19 and medicine for patients who have it, in larger, mid-to-late-stage studies once the UK-based early-stage trial with AZD7442 show promising results.
Development of Monoclonal antibodies (mAb or moAb) to target the virus, a widely endorsed approach by leading scientists is already being tested by Regeneron, ELi Lilly, Roche and Molecular Partners.
U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci has called them “almost a sure bet” against COVID-19, and AstraZeneca in June received $23.7 million in funding from U.S. government agencies to advance the development of antibody-based treatments for 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,” said Astra’s executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D Mene Pangalos.
Though vaccines are at the heart of the long-term fight against the pandemic, alternative treatments are also being advanced, and the United States authorized use of recovered COVID-19 patients’ plasma to treat those who are ill, an approach which has been muted by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to lack on concrete evidence to support the methodology.
There are also reports that President Donald Trump’s administration was considering a fast-tracked approval of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine before November’s elections.