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COVID-19 antibody therapy candidates identified

Thursday October 29th 2020

UK scientists have identified a potentially ground-breaking antibody combination that could be used as a “cocktail” against COVID-19, it is revealed today.

The UK BIA Antibody Taskforce, a UK consortium that is developing antibodies to treat the virus, has created a pool of more than 600 novel candidates, identifying a set of antibodies with the greatest potential.

Dr Jane Osbourn, CSO at Alchemab and leader of the Taskforce, said they believe the most effective tool against COVID-19 is likely to be a defined mixture of two to three antibodies.

“We have accelerated the standard timelines for antibody discovery, taking seven months rather than the industry standard 18 months, establishing a pathway that can be applied to future pandemics,” she said, adding that the effectiveness of different combinations will have to be assessed.”

The candidate antibodies are the first to be selected for the next stage of development, following assessment by collaborators for potency.

Although work is ongoing to establish the cocktail’s efficacy, early indications show a potential competitively potent cocktail that is differentiated from other products that are under investigation in clinic.

It means the novel therapy candidates will move into the next phase of development, with further screening and safety testing.

Steve Bates, CEO of the BIA, said: “This ground-breaking Taskforce has brought together UK-based industry experts who share a joint commitment to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Contributing their expertise and specialist resources, the team has worked tirelessly to identify the most promising antibodies with the potential to positively impact treatment of those affected by this devastating virus. The next stage will involve securing external funding to facilitate the further development and manufacture of the candidates.”

The next phase will see the selected antibody cocktails being manufactured to support initial clinical trials in 2021.

* A study in New York City, USA, has reported that antibody responses can persist for five months in patients with mild to moderate disease, according to a report in Science yesterday.

The research involved 30,000 patients initially and then centred on 121 plasma donors, who had stable antibody levels for five months. The researchers say the antibodies appear to target a different viral antigen to that identified in other studies which have suggested that antibodies fade quite rapidly.

* Analysts GlobalData say hyperimmune intravenous immunoglobin already represents a “tantalising” treatment option, which is under investigation by the US National Institutes of Health. It creates a concentrated mixture of polyclonal antibodies.

* University College London is to lead a trial into two antiviral drugs, favipiravir and lopinavir/ritonavir, to test their effectiveness in early stages of infection.

Robust neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 infection persist for months. Science 28 October 2020

Tags: Flu & Viruses | North America | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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