LifeArc Ventures’ portfolio company RQ Biotechnology has announced that the first of its discovered monoclonal antibodies to prevent COVID-19 in vulnerable patients, AZD3152, has entered clinical trials – less than 12 months after discovery. The start of AstraZeneca’s SUPERNOVA Phase I/III trial will investigate AZD5156 (a combination of AZD3152 and cilgavimab) in pre-exposure prevention of COVID-19. AstraZeneca licenced AZD3152 from RQ Bio in May 2022.
The potential for rapid impact on patients is a hallmark of the RQ Bio discovery process, which stretches across four key disease areas of huge patient need, including COVID-19 and influenza.
The commencement of the trial triggers a $5 million milestone payment to RQ Bio and reinforces the solid financial position of the company to execute its four scientific programmes focused on viral diseases.
Hugo Fry, CEO of RQ Bio, commented: “We’re delighted that one of our discovered antibodies is now at the core of an innovative AstraZeneca investigational medicine reaching clinical trials. This news confirms RQ Bio’s smarter approach to antibody discovery works, fast.
“While vaccines remain the cornerstone of active immunisation, vulnerable populations that cannot build an immune response with vaccination can benefit from protection from a monoclonal antibody. We have seen this with Covid, and we believe that the same passive immunisation approach will be valid for influenza, and the other viral diseases RQ Bio seeks to target.”
“This is an extraordinary achievement by RQ Bio, a company LifeArc Ventures co-founded and funded during the pandemic to help find new approaches to protect vulnerable patients from COVID-19,” said Clare Terlouw, Head of LifeArc Ventures. “With their first product already in the clinic through the licensing agreement with AstraZeneca, RQ Bio is in an excellent position to build a world-leading infectious disease company with four scientific programmes focused on viral diseases including influenza.”
An accelerated development programme by AstraZeneca means a new COVID-19 product could be available in the second half of 2023, subject to trial readouts and regulatory reviews. The monoclonal antibody, discovered by RQ Bio, licenced and further developed by AstraZeneca (AZD3152), has excellent properties for clinical development, and was isolated from vaccinated volunteers after they had an Omicron-BA.1 infection. AZD3152 has broad and potent neutralising activity across all known SARS CoV-2 variants, and forms part of a new investigational combination (AZD5156) for prevention of COVID-19.
More on the RQ Bio website: www.rqbiotechnology.com