(Reuters) – Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Tuesday that a study of its monoclonal antibody treatment, AZD7442, failed to meet the primary goal of preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in people recently exposed to new coronavirus.
The company said the trial participants were unvaccinated adults over the age of 18 with confirmed exposure to someone with coronavirus in the past eight days.
AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by 33% compared to placebo, which was not statistically significant, the company reported.
“Although this trial did not meet the primary endpoint against symptomatic disease, we are encouraged by the protection seen in PCR negative participants after treatment with AZD7442,” said Mene Pangalos, vice -Chairman of AstraZeneca, in a statement.
AstraZeneca is also studying the treatment in a trial on pre-exposed patients and for the prevention of more serious disease.
Monoclonal antibody therapy belongs to a class of drugs that mimic the natural antibodies the body makes to fight infection.
Rivals Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and Eli Lilly & Co have both developed monoclonal antibody therapies that have been approved for use in the United States to treat patients infected with the virus. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved Regeneron’s therapy and is reviewing similar drugs from Eli Lilly, Celltrion and one developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology Inc.
In October, AstraZeneca contracted Swiss subcontractor Lonza to produce the antibody drug in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, starting in the first half of 2021.
AZD7442 is developed with support from the US government. AstraZeneca announced in March an agreement with the US government to provide up to half a million doses of AZD7442. The company said Tuesday that it is currently in talks with the U.S. government regarding next steps for the deal.
(Report by Vishwadha Chander in Bangalore, edited by Shounak Dasgupta and Kim Coghill)