AstraZeneca wins fresh US backing in race for Covid-19 treatment

AstraZeneca has secured support from the U.S. government to advance the development of antibody-based Covid-19 treatments as the British drugmaker ramps up efforts beyond its potential vaccine to combat the global health crisis.

The company said on Tuesday it had signed a second set of deals with authorities in the United states backing its development of a monoclonal antibody treatment against the coronavirus.

It declined to disclose details of the agreement but said it had agreed terms with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to move two Covid-19 antibody therapies it has licensed from researchers into clinical studies in the next two months.

Companies and governments are scrambling to bring a solution for the illness caused by the new coronavirus to market as soon as possible, and many in the medical community believe antibody-based therapies hold great potential.

The United States has already secured 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine, AZD1222, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper vowed last month that the U.S. military and other parts of the government would work with the private sector to produce a vaccine at scale by year-end.

AstraZeneca said it has licensed six monoclonal antibody candidates from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Two of those six prospective proteins will be tested as a combination approach for Covid-19.

Antibodies are generated in the body to fight off infection. Monoclonal antibodies mimic natural antibodies and can be isolated and manufactured in large quantities to treat diseases in patients.

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