Rochdale clinical trial site begins to administer new Covid-19 antibody treatment

Date published: 10 January 2021

A clinical trial site in Rochdale has begun to administer a new Covid-19 antibody treatment, developed by AstraZeneca, as part of a large scale study.

Panthera’s clinical trial sites in Rochdale, Preston and London have begun administering the long-acting antibody combination – called AZD7442 – to volunteers in phase III of AstraZeneca’s PROVENT trial.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial will test whether AZD7442 will prevent Covid-19 for up to one year and is aimed at helping those people with a compromised immune system, who cannot be vaccinated, vaccine hesitant, and those who are unlikely to respond to a vaccination.

The study will recruit 5,000 people worldwide: adult volunteers who have no history of Covid-19 and have an increased risk of infection including those over 60, a BMI of over 30, a chronic medical condition, taking immunosuppressive medications or those more likely to be exposed, such as NHS workers, or those living in shared accommodation, such as students or the armed services.

The trial aims to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a combination of two long-acting monoclonal antibodies – man-made versions of naturally occurring human antibodies of the immune system – in preventing Covid-19 infection. Monoclonal antibodies are identical copies of one type of antibody.

This differs from a vaccine, as it provides antibodies, rather than prompting the body's immune system to make them as a response to infection. Typically, vaccines use inactive viral or bacterial particles, which allows the body to create the necessary antibody to fight infection without showing symptoms of the illness being vaccinated against.

AstraZeneca says long-acting antibody combinations mimic natural antibodies and have the potential to treat and prevent disease progression in patients already infected with the virus, as well as to be given as a preventative intervention prior to exposure to the virus. A long-acting antibody combination could be complementary to vaccines as a prophylactic agent, e.g. for people for whom a vaccine may not be appropriate or to provide added protection for high-risk populations. It could also be used to treat people who have been infected.

Panthera’s three sites used in the study have put strict protocols in place to minimise the risk to both volunteers and staff, enabling the company to continue running clinical trials throughout the pandemic.

In the event of any volunteers developing Covid -19 symptoms Panthera will be providing support to the patient and ensuring the study can continue with those individuals safely isolated.

Stuart Young, CEO of Panthera, commented: “We are delighted that we have been chosen to enrol volunteers in this critical study. We have taken great care in making sure our sites are as safe as possible for both volunteers and staff so that clinical trials can continue. This is vital in ensuring that there are new medications available to prevent and treat, not only Covid-19, but the many other conditions which afflict so many people.”

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