The UK-based multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca says its antibody therapy met the main goal of preventing COVID-19 disease in a late-stage study and it is reportedly planning to seek regulatory approval of its antibody cocktail.
With this study, the British drugmaker will become the first to make a long-acting drug that is not a vaccine and which has demonstrated prevention of the disease in a clinical trial.
The company stated that the cocktail of two types of antibodies, initially discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, reduced by 77 percent of the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19, compared to placebo.
More than 75 percent of the participants had chronic conditions, including some linked to a diminished immune response to vaccination, it said. During the treatment, there were no severe COVID-19 cases or deaths in those treated with the drug, while the placebo arm had three cases of severe disease, including two deaths.
The results create a change of fortune for the drugmaker, which reported in June that a smaller late-stage trial failed to provide evidence that the antibody cocktail, known for now as AZD7442, protected people who had contact with an infected person from the disease.
Antibody cocktails are difficult to administer and expensive to develop, making them cost-effective only if their effects are significant. The treatment contains two antibodies that boost a patients’ immune response and can also be used to prevent infection in high-risk settings.
The British drugmaker, which has faced challenges with the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine, is also working on repurposing existing drugs to fight the virus.