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Roche and Atea link up for oral COVID-19 drug; UK to test coronavirus vaccine T cell responses

New developments for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines

Roche and Atea partner on oral COVID-19 drug development

Swiss pharma giant Roche has partnered with Atea Pharmaceuticals to develop an antiviral oral treatment for COVID-19.

The two companies will jointly develop, manufacture and distribute AT-527, Atea’s investigational oral antiviral for the potential treatment of COVID-19.

According to Roche, AT-527 blocks the viral RNA polymerase enzyme required for viral replication. It is currently being studied in a phase 2 study for the treatment of patients hospitalised with moderate COVID-19.

In the first quarter of 2021, a phase 3 clinical trial is expected to launch testing AT-527 as a potential therapy for COVID-19 patients outside a hospital setting. The drug could also be developed for the post-exposure prophylactic settings, added Roche.

In August, Roche also partnered with Regeneron to bolster manufacturing and global development capabilities for the latter’s investigational antibody cocktail for COVID-19.

Under the terms of the deal, Roche and Regeneron will jointly fund and execute the ongoing phase 3 prevention trials of the drug, REGN-COV2, as well as further phase 1 studies in healthy volunteers.

Roche’s existing rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra (tocilizumab) is also being studied in combination with Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir in hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia in the REMDACTA trial.

UK selects Oxford Immunotec to supply T cell testing for COVID-19 vaccines

The UK Vaccine Taskforce has partnered with Oxford Immunotec to supply T cell testing for its assessment of potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Oxford Immunotec will use its T-SPOT technology to measure the magnitude of the SARS-CoV-2 protein-specific T cell response of different vaccine candidates.

T cell immunity is believed to play a key role in the body’s protection against infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

The UK Vaccines Taskforce is currently including T cell analysis in COVID-19 vaccine trials, as it is believed this could indicate longer-term immunity compared to antibodies.

"The UK Vaccines Taskforce is delighted to be partnering Oxford Immunotec, an experienced team who are responsible for running the Vaccines Taskforce T cell tests to assess the immunogenicity of COVID-19 vaccines,” said Kate Bingham, chair of the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce.

“It is important to be able to assess the different vaccines head-to-head and the T cell response is part of our portfolio of accredited assays that we are employing for cross comparisons,” she added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

22nd October 2020

From: Research



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