A new clinical study is being launched to see whether two Covid-19 antibody treatments made by different pharmaceutical companies can be combined to improve patient outcomes.
British drugs firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and clinical-stage immunology company Vir Biotechnology’s treatment, known as VIR-7831, will be given to low-risk patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 alongside bamlanivimab, developed by US pharmaceutical company Lilly.
Both VIR-7831 and bamlanivimab are monoclonal antibodies – man-made proteins that act like natural human antibodies in the immune system.
Trials for the combination therapy are set to take place in the US and Puerto Rico.
Dr Hal Barron, chief scientific officer at GSK, said: “Despite the significant progress on vaccines, there remains an urgent patient need for multiple therapeutic approaches to help prevent the severe consequences of Covid-19.
“Partnering with Lilly to study VIR-7831 with bamlanivimab will provide the scientific community with further data on the important role these therapies could play in reducing the impact of this devastating pandemic.”
The researchers will also examine whether the combined treatment can increase a patient’s resistance to existing and new variants.
Bamlanivimab is already approved for emergency use in the treatment of Covid-19 in the US, while VIR-7831 is in phase 3 clinical studies with initial results expected in the first quarter of 2021.
Bamlanivimab is directed against the spike protein of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and is designed to stop the virus from entering human cells.
According to the researchers, VIR-7831 was selected “based on its potential to both block viral entry into healthy cells and clear infected cells, as well as its potential to provide a high barrier to resistance”.
Patients will be given 700mg of bamlanivimab alongside 500mg of VIR-7831.
Last year, drugs giant AstraZeneca announced a global clinical trial programme to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a combination of two of their monoclonal antibodies.
The UK Government has an in-principle agreement to secure access to one million doses of AstraZeneca’s antibody combination, dubbed AZD7442, if it is successful in the phase three trials.