Research Roundup: Ebola vaccine human trials, a preventive antibody cocktail, and injectable antibody treatment
A clinical trial is launching to evaluate a new Ebola vaccine that could protect against multiple species of the virus. While effective vaccines against Ebola have been developed in recent years, they have been approved for only one of the four species of the Ebola virus—the Zaire species, which is responsible for many outbreaks and has the highest mortality rate. Researchers at the University of Oxford are now starting human trials of a new vaccine designed to protect against the Sudan species in addition to the Zaire species, which together have caused almost all of the Ebola outbreaks and deaths. The vaccine is based on the same underlying technology used for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Regeneron’s antibody cocktail reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection by 81.6 percent over a period of two to eight months, according to phase 3 trial results announced last week. Previously reported results from the trial had shown REGEN-COV to reduce risk of infection during the first month after administration; the new results demonstrate potential for the drug to provide more long-lasting preventive immunity, which could be an important tool for those who do not respond to COVID-19 vaccines, including people who are immunocompromised. The antibody cocktail is currently authorized in the United States and European Union to treat non-hospitalized patients who are already infected and at high risk of severe illness and in certain cases as a post-exposure prophylaxis.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology announced on Friday that their COVID-19 antibody treatment, sotrovimab, works as well when given as a shot in the arm as when administered via standard infusion. Intramuscular injection could offer additional convenience for delivery of the treatment, as it can be performed by family doctors in non-hospital settings. Sotrovimab is authorized for emergency use in the United States to mitigate progression of mild and moderate cases of COVID-19, and the European Medicines Agency has greenlit its use by member states, though EU-wide approval is still outstanding. GSK plans to speak to global regulators, including the US Food and Drug Administration, about approval for the new method of administration.