UK drugmaker and partner Weir is now testing this therapy against a whole spike of the mutated version
“We are confident that sotrovimab will continue to provide significant benefits for the early treatment of patients hoping to avoid the most severe consequences of Covid-19,” said George Scangos, Veer’s chief executive officer, in a statement. They noted that sotrovimab was slightly weakened by Omicron, but the difference was not significant.
The results confirm earlier laboratory data that suggested the drug worked against the variant. That data, published last week, showed that sotrovimab retained activity against several key mutations of Omicron. Researchers at the companies confirmed the findings by testing the drug against Omicron’s entire spike, which has not been peer-reviewed. They did this by creating a so-called pseudovirus—meaning they recreated Omicron’s entire spike protein on a different virus—and worked over the weekend to test sotrovimab against it, said Amanda Peppercorn, who runs Glaxo. Leads the development of COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies in ,
The companies are also working with public-health laboratories to test sotrovimab against the entire live virus. According to Dr. Peppercorn, for other types, tests against spike alone have reliably predicted results against the whole virus.
Omicron, which has about 50 mutations – an unusually high number – appears to spread more quickly than other strains, but there are early indications from a study in South Africa that it may cause mild disease. Scientists are testing whether this makes existing vaccines less effective.
Monoclonal antibodies mimic part of the body’s immune response to the virus and are typically used in the early stages of infection to reduce the risk of serious illness. 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 severe disease.
Monoclonal antibody treatments target the parts of the spike protein where most of the mutations in the oomicron lie, raising concerns that these drugs may prove less effective against the new variant.
Glaxo and Weir say sotrovimab was designed to target a spot on the spike protein that is also found in other coronaviruses and they believe is less vulnerable to mutations. But two other authorized monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
And Eli Lilly & Co. may do less well against Omicron.
Regeneron says that early studies suggest its treatment was blunted by the newer variant and it is conducting further tests to confirm that finding. The company says it has developed alternative antibodies that it thinks will maintain effectiveness against Omicron that it can move into clinical trials if needed. Lilly has said it is still testing its drug after outside scientists said it was not as effective against the newer version.
Sotrovimab is authorized in about 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.
Works well against the newer version as well, according to the biotech. Like sotrovimab, Adagio’s treatment targets a locus on the spike protein that is less likely to mutate. The Adagio drug is in clinical trials as of late.
Glaxo is already assessing whether it can increase production of sotrovimab if it is the only authorized treatment that retains effectiveness against the newer variant, Dr. Peppercorn said last week.
Researchers are also racing to find out whether existing vaccines are less effective than the variant. pfizer Inc.
Partner with BioNTech SE,
and modern Inc.,
Those that make mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 are working on micron-specific versions of their shots, which they say could be ready to ship in a matter of months if needed.
Antiviral drugs designed to prevent hospitalization, including tablets from Merck & Co. with partners Ridgeback Therapeutics LP and Pfizer, are thought to be less vulnerable to the new variants because they target a different part of the virus. We do. Neither are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, although Merck’s drug is likely to become available soon after an expert advisory panel endorsed the treatment.
Denise Roland at [email protected]