Second Vir-GSK monoclonal antibody to enter Phase 1/2 COVID-19 trials
Preclinical data suggests VIR-7832, a neutralising COVID-19 antibody, has two distinguishing properties: an enhanced ability to clear infected cells and the potential to enhance virus-specific T cell function, which could help treat and/or prevent COVID-19 infection.
California’s Vir Biotechnology and GSK entered into a coronavirus collaboration in April 2020: using Vir’s proprietary monoclonal antibody platform tech to identify new and existing anti-viral antibodies for use against the COVID-19 pandemic. VIR-7832 is the second monoclonal antibody from the collaboration.
NHS-supported trial for VIR-7832
With VIR-7832, the antibody binds to an epitope on SARS-CoV-2 (which causes COVID-19) which is shared with SARS-CoV-1 (which causes SARS). With this epitope thus appearing to be highly conserved, this could make it more difficult for resistance to develop.
VIR-7832 also has been designed to achieve high concentration in the lungs to ensure optimal penetration into airway tissues affected by SARS-CoV-2 and to have an extended half-life. It has been engineered to potentially enhance virus-specific T cell function, which could help treat and/or prevent COVID-19 infection.
A UK-based ‘AGILE’ trial platform will conduct the Phase 1b/2a trials: with the initiative a collaboration between the University of Liverpool, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University of Southampton and Lancaster University; and coordinated by the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Clinical Trials Unit.
The trials will be carried out across five sites in the UK in adult outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection, with a single dose of VIR-7832 given by intravenous infusion.
Dr. Hal Barron, Chief Scientific Officer and President R&D, GSK, said: “While vaccine development has been very successful, current infection and hospitalisation rates show that multiple vaccines and therapeutic options will be needed to combat and ultimately end this pandemic. We are grateful to everyone involved in the AGILE study for supporting this important research and expect initial results from the study to provide important insights into the use of VIR-7832 early in the course of infection with SARS-CoV-2.”
VIR-7832 is set to become the second monoclonal antibody from the Vir-GSK collaboration to be investigated as a potential COVID-19 treatment.
The first antibody, VIR-7831, is currently being investigated in two global phase 3 studies; for the early treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation, and for the treatment of hospitalised patients with COVID-19.
Like VIR-7832, it binds to an epitope found in both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1.