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Ronapreve: this new treatment for COVID-19 has just been authorised – here’s everything you need to know

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The UK medicines regulator has just approved a new COVID-19 treatment. Branded Ronapreve in the UK and REGEN-COV in the US, the drug was developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals with Roche. It first grabbed headlines in October 2020 when President Trump received it during his COVID-19 infection.

Already licensed for emergency use in more than 20 countries – including the US, Japan and India – it is used to treat or prevent acute COVID-19 infection, though isn’t a substitute for vaccination. Administered by injection or infusion, it’s intended for people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19. It can be given either to people already showing symptoms or those who have recently been exposed to someone infected to lower the risk of catching the virus.

Ronapreve belongs to a class of medicines called monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs. These are molecules produced in a laboratory that mimic the natural antibodies that the immune system makes to fight disease.

The treatment contains two mAbs: casirivimab and imdevimab. They are designed to stop the coronavirus attaching to ACE2, a receptor found on the surface of human cells in the respiratory tract. The virus binds to the receptor to get inside the cell, where it can replicate before going on to infect other cells.

One of the mAbs is derived from a COVID-fighting immune cell taken from a human survivor of the disease. The other was produced in a mouse genetically modified to have a human immune system. The advantage of combining........

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