Glaxo Says Covid-19 Antibody Drug Works Against Omicron – Community News
Covid-19

Glaxo Says Covid-19 Antibody Drug Works Against Omicron

GlaxoSmithKline GSK 1.13%

PLC and Vir Biotechnology Inc.

VIR 4.51%

said their treatment with Covid-19 antibodies maintained effectiveness against the Omicron variant in lab studies, even as early data suggests similar treatments may not work as well against the highly mutated strain.

The results offer hope that at least one monoclonal antibody therapy — a form of treatment that has been shown to be helpful in attenuating serious diseases — will remain effective against Omicron, which has been detected in dozens of countries, including the US since it was identified by scientists in the South. -America. Africa two weeks ago.

“We are confident that sotrovimab will continue to provide significant benefits for the early treatment of patients in hopes of avoiding the most serious consequences of Covid-19,” Vir’s chief executive George Scangos said in a statement. He added that sotrovimab was slightly attenuated by Omicron, but the difference was not significant.

The result confirms previous lab data suggesting the drug worked against the variant. Those data, published last week, showed that sotrovimab retained activity against several of Omicron’s key mutations. The companies’ researchers confirmed the findings, which have not been peer-reviewed, by testing the drug against the entire peak of Omicron. They did that by building a so-called pseudovirus — meaning they mimicked Omicron’s entire spike protein on another virus — and worked over the weekend to test sotrovimab against it, said Amanda Peppercorn, who is developing monoclonal antibodies against Covid- 19 leads at Glaxo.

The companies are also working with public health labs to test sotrovimab against the whole live virus. For other variants, tests against the peak alone have reliably predicted results against the whole virus, said Dr. peppercorn.

Omicron, which has about 50 mutations — an unusually high number — appears to be spreading faster than other strains, but there are early signs from a study in South Africa that it could cause milder disease. Scientists are testing whether it makes existing vaccines less effective.

Scientists and vaccine makers are investigating Omicron, a Covid-19 variant with about 50 mutations, which has been detected in many countries after spreading in southern Africa. This is what we know as the US and others implement travel restrictions. Photo: Fazry Ismail/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Monoclonal antibodies mimic part of the body’s immune response to the virus and are typically used early on in infection to reduce the risk of serious disease. In a large clinical trial, sotrovimab reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 79% in people with mild or moderate Covid-19 at high risk of developing serious disease.

Monoclonal antibody treatments target parts of the spike protein, where most of Omicron’s mutations lie, raising concerns that these drugs could be less effective against the new variant.

Glaxo and Vir say sotrovimab was designed to target a site on the spike protein also found in other coronaviruses, which they believe is less vulnerable to mutations. But the other two authorized monoclonal antibody treatments, from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

and Eli Lilly & Co., may fare less well against Omicron.

Regeneron has said early studies suggested its treatment was blunted by the new variant and it is conducting further tests to confirm that finding. The company says it has developed alternative antibodies that it believes will maintain effectiveness against Omicron and could be rolled out in clinical trials if needed. Lilly has said it is still testing its drug after outside scientists said it wasn’t as effective against the new variant.

Sotrovimab is approved in a dozen countries, including the US, which has paid nearly $1 billion for hundreds of thousands of doses.

An experimental antibody therapy developed by Adagio Therapeutics Inc.

also seems to work well against the new variant, according to the biotech. Like sotrovimab, Adagio’s treatment targets a site on the spike protein that is less likely to mutate. The Adagio drug is in a late stage of clinical trials.

Glaxo is already assessing whether it could increase production of sotrovimab in the event that it turns out to be the only approved treatment that maintains effectiveness against the new variant, said Dr. Peppercorn last week.

Researchers are also rushing to find out whether existing vaccines are being made less effective against the variant. Pfizer Inc.

with partner BioNTech SE,

and Moderna Inc.,

who make mRNA vaccines for Covid-19 are working on Omicron-specific versions of their recordings, which they say could be ready for shipment in a few months if needed.

Antiviral drugs also designed to prevent hospitalization, including pills from Merck & Co. with partner Ridgeback Therapeutics LP and from Pfizer, are believed to be less vulnerable to new variants because they target a different part of the virus. Neither is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, though Merck’s drug will likely be available soon after an expert advisory panel approves the treatment.

write to Denise Roland at [email protected]

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