AstraZeneca begins trial for coronavirus antibody treatment

AstraZeneca announced on Tuesday that it has begun a Phase I trial for an antibody combo treatment against COVID-19.

Company officials said the trial of two monoclonal antibodies will involve up to 48 healthy participants in the UK, aged between 18 to 55. The first participants have been dosed.

The trial is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The agency is a part of the U.S. Department of Defense, while the BARDA is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, per the press release.

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AstraZeneca announced on Tuesday that it has begun a Phase I trial for an antibody combo treatment against COVID-19. (iStock)

The trial will assess the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of the antibody combo, the company said.

“This trial is an important milestone in the development of our monoclonal antibody combination to prevent or treat COVID-19,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice president at BioPharmaceuticals R&D, in a company press release.

“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.”

If the combo treatment (AZD7442) is safe and tolerable, AstraZeneca said it will progress into late-stage trials to evaluate its efficacy.

The company said that monoclonal antibodies are created in the lab, mimic natural antibodies, and their treatment may prevent disease progression.

The monoclonal antibodies are derived from convalescent plasma of COVID-19 patients. The company pointed to a recent study published in Nature where researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center showed the monoclonal antibodies blocked the SARS-CoV-2 virus from binding to host cells and shielded “against infection in cell and animal models of disease.”

Data from the randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial is expected later this year.

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