LONDON - Pharma giant AstraZeneca said Tuesday it had begun a clinical trial of a drug designed to both prevent infection and treat people with COVID-19, with the first volunteers receiving doses.
The drug, known as AZD7442, is a combination of two antibodies and is being tested on 48 healthy people aged between 18 and 55, the company said.
"This trial is an important milestone in the development of our monoclonal antibody combination to prevent or treat COVID-19," said Mene Pangalos, executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca.
The company said the trial would help evaluate the safety of the drug and be used both to prevent the disease and to stop it from progressing in patients already infected.
Results from the trial are expected by the end of this year.
This latest trial involving AstraZeneca, which has its global headquarters in Cambridge, eastern England, comes in addition to its partnership with the University of Oxford on the development of a separate coronavirus vaccine, which is said to have produced encouraging results.
News of the latest trial prompted shares in AstraZeneca to rise in early trading on Tuesday.