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New Long-Acting Antibody Combination Treatment Could Give COVID-19 Immunity

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 Dec 2020
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Researchers have begun two clinical trials for testing a long-acting antibody combination treatment to protect against COVID-19.

In the STORM CHASER study, researchers from the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH; London, UK) have recruited 10 participants to date. They believe the antibody or LAAB, known as AZD7442 and developed by AstraZeneca (Cambridge, UK) may offer immediate and long-term protection to people who have been recently exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, to prevent them developing COVID-19. The other study, PROVENT, is looking at 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 factors such as age and existing conditions. Antibodies are protein molecules that the body produces to help fight infections. Monoclonal antibodies are artificially produced in a laboratory and designed as possible medical treatments. They are designed to be injected directly into the body, unlike vaccines which ‘train’ the immune system itself to produce antibodies.

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 also designed to reduce the risk of resistance developed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In both PROVENT and STORM CHASER, researchers will assess whether the treatment reduces the risk of developing COVID-19 and/or reduces the severity of infection compared to placebo.

Key participant groups in the STORM CHASER trial will include healthcare workers, students who live in group accommodation, and patients who are exposed to anyone with the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19, as well as residents of long-term care facilities and industrial/military settings. Both trials are taking place at the Vaccine Research Centre at UCLH, which has been opened to help accelerate the development of new vaccines and treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic. As licensed vaccines become available to qualifying trial participants, a mechanism will be put in place to enable them to safely leave the study if deemed medically beneficial. Being a trial participant in one of the studies will not delay the process of receiving a vaccination and should not prevent patients being involved in other studies if they do develop an illness related to COVID-19.

“We know that this antibody combination can neutralize the virus, so we hope to find that giving this treatment via injection can lead to immediate protection against the development of COVID-19 in people who have been exposed – when it would be too late to offer a vaccine,” said UCLH virologist Dr. Catherine Houlihan who is leading the STORM CHASER study.

“We will be recruiting people who are older or in long-term care, and who have conditions such as cancer and HIV which may affect the ability of their immune system to respond to a vaccine. We want to reassure anyone for whom a vaccine may not work that we can offer an alternative which is just as protective,” said UCLH infectious diseases consultant Dr. Nicky Longley who is leading the UCLH portion of PROVENT.

Related Links:
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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