GSK Says Antibody Works on Omicron Mutations in Early Tests
(Bloomberg) -- GlaxoSmithKline Plc said its Covid-19 antibody treatment looks to be effective against the new omicron variant in early tests.
Lab tests of the mutations found in the variant showed the drug is still active against the virus, Glaxo said in a statement Thursday. The drugmaker is now conducting in vitro experiments to confirm the response against a combination of all the omicron mutations.
Glaxo’s observations come amid uncertainty about whether omicron erodes the defenses of existing medicines and vaccines -- and by how much. Its many mutations, particularly on the spike protein that’s the target of most treatments, have sparked concern worldwide and spooked financial markets.
Glaxo’s early results don’t yet prove the antibody is effective against omicron, according to Bloomberg Intelligence’s Sam Fazeli. “It’s possible that when all mutations are tested at once there’ll be a drop in neutralization,” the analyst said in a note.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. earlier this week said it was conducting further testing after early evidence suggested that its own antibody may be less effective.
Regeneron’s and Eli Lilly & Co.’s antibodies are more likely to struggle against omicron than Glaxo’s because of where the mutations lie on the spike protein, according to Fazeli.
Glaxo’s sotrovimab reduced the risk of hospitalization and death in people with mild to moderate Covid by 79% in trials. The drug won clearance from U.K. regulators on Thursday. Glaxo shares showed little change in London trading.
“Sotrovimab was deliberately designed with a mutating virus in mind,” said George Scangos, chief executive officer of the drug’s co-developer Vir Biotechnology Inc. Glaxo and Vir plan to give an update by year-end on results from their in-vitro tests.
The injected antibodies are just one tool in the arsenal of Covid treatments, but they could be key to immune-suppressed people who don’t mount an adequate response to vaccines and help lessen the effects of the virus in those more susceptible to severe disease.
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