UK regulator approves antibody drug which may help tackle Omicron

pharmafile | December 2, 2021 | News story | Research and Development  

UK drug regulators have approved Xevudy (sotrovimab), a new coronavirus antibody treatment made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which has been found to cut hospital admission and death by 79% in those at risk. The makers of the drug claim the treatment is effective against the newly discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The monoclonal antibody was authorised by the MHRA for use with people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk of developing severe disease. This news arrives as GSK and Vir Biotechnology shared preclinical data showing that the drug “retains activity against key mutations of the new Omicron Sars-CoV-2 variant”. The UK has additionally accelerated the signing of new contracts for millions more COVID-19 vaccines in response to Omicron’s emergence, and in anticipation of winter strain on healthcare.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has shared that 60 million Moderna shots have been acquired along with 54 million Pfizer doses for 2022 and 2023. The UK government has additionally ordered around 100,000 doses of Xevudy.

“Strovimab was deliberately designed with a mutating virus in mind,” shared George Scangos, Chief Executive of Vir. “By targeting a highly conserved region of the spike protein that is less likely to mutate, we hoped to address both the current  SARS-CoV-2 virus and future variants that we expected would be inevitable.” Scangos continued: “This hypothesis has borne out again and again, with its ongoing ability to maintain activity against all tested variants of concern and interest to date, including key mutations found in Omicron, as demonstrated by preclinical data.”

The drug is the second monoclonal antibody treatment to be approved by the MHRA, after Ronapreve, and works by binding to the spike protein on the outside of the COVID-19 virus. This protein is what mediates viral entry into host cell, from which the virus can quickly replicate.

“We have every expectation that this positive trend will continue and are working rapidly to confirm its activity against the full combination sequence of Omicron,” Scangos concluded.

Ana Ovey

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