GSK’s Covid-19 drug works against highly-mutated new Omicron variant, study shows

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SK said today that its antibody treatment for COVID-19 is effective against Omicron despite the high level of mutation of the new type.

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The drugmaker reported the results of pre-clinical studies conducted in a laboratory, which suggest that sotrovimab retains activity against all 37 mutations identified so far in the spike protein of the virus coat.

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The findings, which have not been peer-reviewed and were published in a stock market update, contributed to a rally in markets around the world that propelled the FTSE 100 to its highest level since Omicron’s discovery last month. .

Shares of GSK subsidiary Veer Biotechnology rose more than 7% in pre-market trading on Wall Street.

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Heroic boss George Scangos said: “We are confident that sotrovimab will continue to provide significant benefits for early treatment of patients hoping to avoid the most severe consequences of Covid-19.”

Trials against earlier strains of COVID-19 showed that sotrovimab reduced the risk of hospitalization and death in four-fifths (79%) of patients with mild to moderate symptoms.

Glaxo has committed to selling 750,000 doses of the drug to governments around the world, with estimated sales of $1.5 billion.

It was given authorization last week by the UK medicines watchdog MHRA for over 12 with mild to moderate symptoms who are at risk of developing severe disease. The UK has ordered approximately 100,000 doses.

Based on clinical trial data, sotrovimab is most effective when taken during the early stages of infection: the MHRA recommends its use within five days of symptom onset.

Hal Barone, GSK’s chief scientific officer, said: “These pre-clinical data demonstrate the ability to be effective against the latest version of our monoclonal antibody, Omicron, and against all other forms of concern defined to date.

“We look forward to discussing these results with regulatory authorities around the world.”

The drug works by attaching itself to receptors on the outside of viruses that block their ability to attach to and enter cells.

The injected antibodies are expected to play an important role in treating patients whose immune systems do not respond adequately to vaccines, and helping to reduce symptoms in those who are susceptible to severe disease.

MHRA Chief Executive Dr June Raine said: “This is yet another therapeutic that has been shown to be effective in protecting those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and another step in our fight against this devastating disease. Signs a significant step forward.”

Separately today, GSK reported positive results in phase-3 trials for its plant-based COVID-19 candidate being developed with Canada’s Biopharma Medicago.

The study showed the delta version to be 75% more effective than the delta version in a study of 24,000 adults in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.

Medicago will now seek regulatory approval from Health Canada. The vaccine candidate has not yet been approved by any regulatory authority.

“These are encouraging results,” said Thomas Breuer, GSK’s chief global health officer.

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