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Coronavirus breakthrough: New AstraZeneca anti-body cocktail boosts cure hopes
November 21, 2020
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The new drug relies on a different process in helping the body fend off coronavirus than a regular vaccine and is raising hopes in the battle to end the pandemic. The pharmaceutical giant began late-stage trials of the new drug that when administered protects individuals from infection for up to 12 months. Now in Phase III, the company will begin an international clinical trial by recruiting a total of 5,000 from Europe and the United States.
The new antibody cocktail medicine is known as AZD7442.
The new drug relies on a treatment known as the prophylactic process.
This treatment is different from being vaccinated as it introduces new antibodies to combat the disease instead of prompting the body to create them.
Those with weak immune systems can benefit more from a prophylactic treatment than a regular vaccination as their response to creating new anti-bodies has been compromised.
AstraZeneca is the pharmaceutical company behind the development of the new coronavirus vaccine, working with researchers at Oxford University.
Trials of the new drug began in the UK on Saturday.
A total of 1,000 participants have had the anti-body combination administered to them at nine sites across the UK.
AstraZeneca researchers from the UK said: “What we are investigating in this study is whether we can provide protection by giving antibodies that have been shown to neutralise the virus.
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“This will be done by injection into the muscle.”
Professor Andrew Ustianowski, the chief investigator with the UK trial, added: “The hope is that this will then provide good protection for many months against infection.”
The drug acts using monoclonal antibodies that mimic the human body’s natural antibodies.
These monoclonal antibodies are manufactured in a laboratory and have been developed to treat some types of cancer.
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AstraZeneca said the new antibody cocktail has the potential to treat those who have already been infected with coronavirus.
It can also be used as a preventative medication for healthcare workers who are exposed to higher viral loads.
At a press conference, AstraZeneca’s executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals research and development Mene Pangalos said: “These have been engineered specifically to have what we call a long half-life, so we think they will confer protection for at least six, but more likely closer to 12 months,”
He added that this drug “in effect, acts almost like a passive vaccination”.