Vir, GSK to halt enrollment in U.S. COVID-19 antibody trial sub-study

(Reuters) – Vir Biotechnology and Britain’s GSK said on Wednesday they would pause enrollment into a study testing their experimental COVID-19 antibody therapy, which is a part of a large U.S. trial.

The companies will now wait for more data from this sub-study after an independent panel found that while their drug, VIR-7831, met the criteria to move into the next stage of testing and was safe to use, there was lack of evidence to support how well it would work.

Vir and GSK will continue discussions with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which is backing the late-stage study, to evaluate the next steps to assess the treatment’s effectiveness in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the drugmakers said.

Shares of Vir plummeted by more than a quarter to around $41. London-listed GSK’s stock was unchanged.

FILE PHOTO: Company logo of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is seen at their Stevenage facility, Britain October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

“The absence of safety concerns and the possibility of a benefit on top of remdesivir and corticosteroids in this advanced cohort of patients are encouraging,” Vir CEO George Scangos said.

GSK and San Francisco-based Vir are working together on another therapy as part of their collaboration to develop COVID-19 treatments based on monoclonal antibodies.

Monoclonal antibodies are synthetically manufactured copies of the human body’s natural infection-fighting proteins, and are already being used to treat some types of cancers.

Reporting by Amruta Khandekar and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi


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