British pharma accelerates testing of COVID-19 antibody treatments


Posted at Jun 09 2020 06:49 PM

British pharma accelerates testing of COVID-19 antibody treatments 1
The company logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, US, April 8, 2019. Brendan McDermid, Reuters/File

AstraZeneca said Tuesday it expects to move 2 COVID-19 antibody therapies it has licensed from US researchers into clinical studies in the next 2 months as the drugmaker ramps up efforts to help combat the health crisis.

The British company said it has agreed terms with the United States' Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to back its project to develop a monoclonal antibody treatment against the coronavirus.

The company did not disclose the financial terms of the agreements.

The United States has already secured 300 million doses of AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 vaccine, AZD1222, by pledging more than $1 billion through BARDA and has poured billions more into other projects to ensure supply.

While some promising vaccine candidates have emerged in the global race to find a solution for the illness caused by the new coronavirus, many in the medical community believe antibody-based therapies hold great potential.

AstraZeneca also said Tuesday it has licensed 6 candidates from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, after evaluating more than 1,500 potential monoclonal antibodies. Two of those 6 prospective proteins will be tested as a combination approach for COVID-19.

Antibodies are generated in the body to fight off infection. Monoclonal antibodies mimic natural antibodies and can be isolated and manufactured in large quantities to treat diseases in patients.

There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19.