Keeping tabs on Covid-19: Glucose monitoring technology donations, clinical pharmacology principles for vaccine developed, scaling viral vector-based vaccines scaled

As the need for an effective and robust vaccine to treat Covid-19 becomes increasingly urgent, Pharma IQ looks at how the pharma industry are using technology and expediting clinical trials to safely search for a treatment

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The outbreak of coronavirus has created a global health crisis, which not only threatens social and economic activity, but has also placed enormous pressure on global healthcare systems to find an effective and robust cure.

With the impact of the pandemic progressively impeding social and economic frameworks, this week Pharma IQ explore how the pharma industry is addressing the Covid-19 crisis beyond vaccine development and delving into how the industry is using technology and forming new partnerships to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.

Data from glucose monitoring technology allows healthcare teams to remotely monitor patients with diabetes

Abbott has donated 6,500 FreeStyle Libre sensors to hospitals in the UK to help frontline healthcare workers discharge vulnerable patients with diabetes in a timely manner, with safe and effective remote follow-up treatment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The sensor-based glucose monitoring technology can provide patients with glucose measurements in real-time, historical trends and patterns, and monitor when glucose levels are increasing through a compatible smartphone or reader.

According to Abbott, the donation can equip as many as 3,250 at-risk patients living with diabetes for a month, so they can go home sooner and stay connected with their healthcare professional post-discharge, helping them to stay well.

Dr. Pratik Choudhary, senior lecturer and consultant in diabetes at Kings College Hospital, London and co-chair of the Diabetes Technology Network, said: “Recent data show that people with diabetes have an elevated risk of adverse outcomes with Covid-19, which is also linked to their glucose control. We are really pleased that Abbott has agreed to our request to help us support patients with diabetes who are admitted to hospital... limiting unnecessary exposure between healthcare professionals and patients.”

Neil Harris, general manager of Abbott's diabetes care business in the UK and Ireland, said: “Providing frontline healthcare professionals and patients with technology and equipment is critical in the fight against Covid-19. We’re delighted to make FreeStyle Libre sensors available for hospitalized people living with diabetes, which will help frontline healthcare workers to monitor and manage the glucose levels of these patients better and, at the same time, help limit Covid-19 exposure, helping to keep people safe.”

International societies call on researchers to apply clinical pharmacology principles in search for safe Covid-19 treatments

The British Pharmacological Society and the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists published a joint international statement in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology to call on researchers to apply clinical pharmacology principles in the search for safe and effective treatments for Covid-19.

A number of medical organizations have endorsed the statement across the world, with the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and the European Association for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics among the names listed.

The statement welcomes international efforts to safely expedite clinical trials in the search for a treatment. However, it cautions that many studies do not include the information that is needed to safely translate a promising treatment from research to clinical practice. It sets out five principles that are intended to give research efforts the best chance of success to identify potential treatments.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, President of the British Pharmacological Society and one of the authors of the statement, said: “This statement sets out principles that will ultimately help develop drugs that can be used for the treatment of Covid-19.

“It is all very well if a treatment works in vitro – but if it cannot reach effective doses in the lung or other target organs, or if it is toxic, it will fail. Similarly, treatment with an antiviral only for a patient with severe disease as a consequence of a ‘cytokine storm’ may not be sufficient. We hope that this advice will help researchers embed clinical pharmacology principles at all stages of research, to help identify the right dose, for the right patient, at the right time.”

Collaboration agreement to scale up GMP manufacturing and viral vector-based vaccines

Oxford Biomedica, a gene and cell therapy group specializing in the development of gene-based medicine, has announced a five-year collaboration agreement with the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), a not-for-profit organization established to provide the UK’s first strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability to scale up viral vector-based vaccines.

Oxford Biomedica and VMIC had previously worked together to manufacture the adenovirus vector-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, which has entered clinical trials at multiple sites in the UK. Oxford Biomedica are now working alongside AstraZeneca to commercially manufacture, develop and distribute AZD1222.

As part of the five-year collaboration agreement, VMIC will provide manufacturing equipment for Oxford Biomedica to rapidly scale up two new manufacturing suites that abide with good manufacturing practices (GMP). This will provide additional manufacturing capacity and enable further scale up for AZD1222 from the summer of 2020 to help meet the demand for UK and European vaccines. Oxford Biomedica also claim these suites could be utilized for other viral vector vaccine candidates.

John Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Biomedica, said: “Since we became involved in addressing the urgent need for UK manufacturing capacity for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate AZD1222, we have strived to support VMIC’s broader goal of accelerating and supporting UK manufacturing capacity and capabilities for vaccines more generally. This highly collaborative partnership allows for a rapid deployment capability to be established, and also accelerates fit out and utilization of another two GMP manufacturing suites within our new commercial manufacturing facility, Oxbox.”

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If you missed last week’s Covid-19 update, head to our keeping tabs on pharma content hub to read more.