The UK BIA Antibody Taskforce, a UK consortium developing antibodies for treating COVID-19 has reached a major milestone – the identification of differentiated antibody combinations that will be taken forward for further development as an antibody ‘cocktail’. The Taskforce developed an accelerated and rigorous multifaceted approach to create a pool of over 600 novel candidates and identified a set of antibodies with the greatest potential.
Dr Jane Osbourn OBE, CSO at Alchemab and leader of the Taskforce, said: “We have accelerated the standard timelines for antibody discovery, taking 7 months rather than the industry standard 18 months, establishing a pathway that can be applied to future pandemics. We believe that the most effective tool against COVID-19 will most likely be a defined mixture of two to three antibodies – so the effectiveness of different combinations must also be assessed.”
These candidate antibodies are the first to be selected for the next stage of development, following assessment by collaborators for potency. Assessment of their efficacy as a cocktail is on-going, however, early indications are showing a potential competitively potent cocktail that is differentiated from other products currently being investigated in clinic. The candidates are poised to move into the next phase of development where further screening and safety testing will need to be performed.
Steve Bates OBE, CEO of the BIA, said: “This ground-breaking Taskforce has brought together UK-based industry experts who share a joint commitment to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributing their expertise and specialist resources, the team has worked tirelessly to identify the most promising antibodies with the potential to positively impact treatment of those affected by this devastating virus. The next stage will involve securing external funding to facilitate the further development and manufacture of the candidates.”
The next phase of the project will involve manufacturing of the selected antibody cocktails to support initial clinical trials in 2021, to provide essential safety and efficacy data.