AstraZeneca antibody cocktail study shows success in treating COVID-19

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  • Shortly after infection, the drug reduces the risk of deterioration
  • Astra sees the main use of shooting in a preventive setting
  • Faced with competition from other antibodies, the Merck tablet

Oct. 11 (Reuters) – AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) antibody cocktail against COVID-19, which has been shown to be effective as a preventative injection in uninfected people, has also saved lives and prevented serious illnesses when given as a treatment within a week of the first symptoms.

The drug, a combination of two antibodies called AZD7442, has reduced the risk of severe COVID-19 or death by 50% in outpatients who have had symptoms for seven days or less, the British drugmaker said on Monday. Swedish.

Risk reduction was even better in patients who started treatment within five days of first symptoms, but AstraZeneca joins an already crowded area of ​​drugs that have been shown to be effective in preventing deterioration in patients with disease. mild when given soon after diagnosis.

AstraZeneca director Mene Pangalos said on a media call that the treatment results will primarily highlight potential future use as non-vaccine prevention.

“If and when it is approved, it will also be used as part of the treatment. But the real differentiator of this antibody will be in the prophylactic setting,” he said.

Similar therapies made with a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies are in development by Regeneron (REGN.O), Eli Lilly (LLY.N) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) with its partner Vir (VIR.O). These therapies are approved for emergency use in the United States for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19.

Regeneron therapy has shown 72% protection against symptomatic infection in the first week, and 93% thereafter.

GSK-Vir showed a 79% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death from any cause, while Eli Lilly’s therapy showed a 70% reduction in viral load on the seventh day compared to to a placebo.

Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N), in turn, is emphasizing the convenience of using its anti-COVID-19 tablet, which reduces the risk of going to hospital or dying by 50%. in an early treatment trial. stage patients who had at least one risk factor.

A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication in collaboration with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a structurally representative model of a beta-coronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication / via REUTERS / File photo

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Merck, working with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, on Monday requested emergency clearance in the United States for the oral drug.

AstraZeneca, whose COVID-19 vaccine has been widely used around the world, last week asked U.S. regulators to grant emergency use authorization for AZD7442 as a preventative measure.

As such, it is designed to protect people who do not have a strong enough immune response to vaccines, primarily those who have had organ transplants or are in cancer care.

If full market clearance is obtained after any emergency approvals, the market could expand, for example, to include the crew and passengers of a cruise ship, Pangalos said.

“You can say the same for people who don’t want to be vaccinated but want an antibody,” he added.

AstraZeneca said it is submitting new treatment data on AZD7442 to global health regulators.

The trial took place in 13 countries and involved more than 900 adult participants, 90% of whom suffered from diseases that made them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, such as cancer and diabetes. Half receiving AZD7442 and the rest receiving placebo.

Full trial results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, AstraZeneca said.

AZD7442 contains lab-made antibodies that are designed to stay in the body for months to contain the virus if infected. A vaccine, on the other hand, relies on an intact immune system to develop targeted antibodies and anti-infective cells.

While Monday’s results cover the use of AZD7442 in out-of-hospital patients, a separate trial is also studying its use as a treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt, Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Kirsten Donovan and Alexander Smith

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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