UK scientists trial instant immunity antibody drug treatment for COVID-19
(Sourced from PTI)
Scientists in the UK have begun trials of innovative instant immunity antibody-drug treatments for COVID-19. The University College London Hospitals NHS Trust (UCLH) said researchers in the Storm Chaser study believe a Long-Acting AntiBody (LAAB) known as AZD7442, developed by AstraZeneca, may offer immediate and long-term protection to people who have been recently exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and prevent them from developing COVID-19.
The world's first participant to the UCLH virologist Dr. Catherine Houlihan-led study was recruited earlier this month; nine more were recruited later. Houlihan said as the antibody combination can neutralize the virus, they hope to find that injecting this can lead to immediate protection against the development of COVID-19 in people who've been exposed and when it is too late to offer a vaccine.
UCLH said its new vaccine research center is running two clinical trials testing a LAAB combination treatment to protect against COVID-19. The second Provent study is looking at the use of AZD7442 in people who may not respond to vaccination, for instance where someone has a compromised immune system or are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection due to old age and existing conditions.
"We want to reassure anyone for whom a vaccine may not work that we can offer an alternative which is just as protective," said Dr. Nicky Longley, UCLH infectious diseases consultant leading the Provent study. She also said will recruit people who are older or in long-term care, and those with pre-existing conditions like cancer and HIV that can weaken their immune system.
"These two clinical trials are an important addition to testing new therapeutic approaches, as antibody treatments may offer an alternative to patient groups who cannot benefit from a vaccine, such as immunocompromised patients," said Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director of National Health Service, England.
Storm Chaser is exploring the use of a combination of monoclonal antibodies given intramuscularly to those who have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2—a setting where vaccination would not have time to work. This makes Storm Chaser an important study that may have a large impact on our ability to control this infection, noted Professor Andrew Ustianowski, who is the chief investigator of the new studies.
The LAABs have been engineered with AstraZeneca's "proprietary" half-life extension technology to increase the durability of the therapy for six to 12 months following a single administration. The combination of two LAABs is designed to reduce the risk of resistance developed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
UCLH said that in both the studies, researchers will assess whether the treatment reduces the risk of developing COVID-19 and/or reduces the severity of infection compared to placebo. The Storm Chaser trial will include healthcare workers, students living in group accommodation, and patients who are exposed to anyone with the virus as well as residents of long-term care facilities and industrial/military settings.
"The opening of our new Vaccine Research Center will help to propel our fight against the virus, meet our aspiration to save as many lives as possible, and ensure a return to normality," said Professor Vincenzo Libri, Director, UCLH Clinical Research Facility. Professor Marcel Levi, UCLH Chief Executive, said developing additional treatments will be vital to ensure everyone can be offered protection against COVID-19.