An antibody-based cocktail for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 is being tested in the UK by drugmaker AstraZeneca.
The tests, along with vaccines, indicate progress on possible medical solutions to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The London-listed firm, already among the leading players in the global race to develop a successful vaccine, said 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.
If the trial shows AZD7442 is safe, AstraZeneca said it would proceed to test it as both a preventative treatment for COVID-19 and a medicine for patients who have it, in larger, mid-to-late-stage studies.
AstraZeneca shares were up about 1% at 87 pounds ($114) in early trading.
Development of mAbs to target the virus, an approach already being tested by Regeneron, ELi Lilly, Roche and Molecular Partners, has been endorsed by leading scientists.
mAbs mimic natural antibodies generated in the body to fight off infection and can be synthesised in the laboratory to treat diseases in patients.
Current uses include treatment of some types of cancers.
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 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.
The Oxford Vaccine Group, a member of which is AstraZeneca also announced today that an experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed could be put before regulators this year if scientists are able to gather enough data.
The director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Andrew Pollard said this today on BBC Radio.
“It is just possible that if the cases accrue rapidly in the clinical trials, that we could have that data before regulators this year, and then there would be a process that they go through in order to make a full assessment of the data,” Pollard said.
The Oxford vaccine showed early promise in the first human trial when it produced an immune response, underlining its position as one of the leading candidates in the race to produce a vaccine against a disease that has crippled the global economy.
The trial hit the headlines earlier this week when the Financial Times reported that the Trump administration was considering fast-tracking the vaccine for use in the United States ahead of the November 3 elections.