AZD7442 is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that the pharma giant hopes can prevent as well as treat the virus.
Produced in the laboratory, the monoclonal antibodies are designed to replicate proteins made by the body that can stop the virus attaching to a cell and infecting it.
Funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the phase 1 trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of the treatment in up to 48 healthy volunteers.
In a statement, Mene Pangalos, executive vice president, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, said: “This trial is an important milestone in the development of our monoclonal antibody combination to prevent or treat COVID-19.
“This combination of antibodies, coupled to our proprietary half-life extension technology, has the potential to improve both the effectiveness and durability of use in addition to reducing the likelihood of viral resistance.”
If it successfully passes this safety trial, AstraZeneca said it will move onto larger late-stage Phase II and Phase III trials to evaluate efficacy as a potential preventative and treatment approach against COVID-19.
AZD7442’s combination of mAbs was derived from convalescent patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection and discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
AstraZeneca licensed the mAbs in June and with its half-life extension should afford at least six months of protection from COVID-19.
In a recent Nature publication, the mAbs were shown preclinically to block the binding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to host cells and protect against infection in cell and animal models of disease, AstraZeneca said.
Data from the trial is anticipated in the second half of 2020.
Other mAbs clinical studies for COVID-19 currently in progress include a phase III trial conducted jointly by US infectious disease agency NIAID and Regeneron Pharma for a dual combination.
NIAID is also undertaking a phase III trial with Eli Lilly using a mAb from recovered COVID-19 patients.