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Scientists Developing Decoy Molecule as Therapeutic Against SARS-CoV-2 That Could Be Inhaled Directly Into the Lungs

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 17 Sep 2020
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A decoy molecule being developed as a therapeutic against SARS-CoV-2 has the potential to neutralize the novel coronavirus when administered directly to the lungs through inhalation.

A report by BioSpace highlights the efforts being made by iBio, Inc. (New York, NY, USA), an innovator biologics company, to develop a decoy molecule as a therapeutic against SARS-CoV-2. The candidate is a recombinant protein made from human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) fused to a human immunoglobulin G Fc fragment. ACE2 is the receptor to which the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds, and which enables it to infect healthy cells.

iBio recently licensed the candidate from Planet Biotechnology which identifies and develops promising antibodies and receptor/ligand-Fc fusion proteins for the treatment and prevention of disease. Several pathogens initiate disease by attaching to specific receptor proteins on the surface of cells in a human or animal host. Planet uses these receptors to provide potent defenses against disease. It fuses human receptors to the constant region of an antibody to create novel proteins called immunoadhesins. These immunoadhesins act as decoys, binding to a specific target virus or bacterial toxin before it can bind to human cells to initiate disease. ACE2-Fc is an immunoadhesin and targets coronavirus virions directly using the ACE2 extracellular domain on the protein as a decoy, according to the BioSpace report.

“This is an antibody-like molecule with the ends holding ACE2 receptors,” Tom Isett, chairman and CEO, told BioSpace. Healthy human cells also have the receptor. By creating this immunoadhesin molecule, SARS-CoV-2 essentially tricks the spike protein of the virus into binding to the decoy, thus neutralizing the virus. “We are looking at different routes of administration, including directly to the lungs with an inhaled product.”

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