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Newly Identified Highly Potent Monoclonal Antibody Against SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizes All COVID-19 Variants of Concern

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 13 Oct 2021
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Scientists have discovered a highly potent monoclonal antibody that targets the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and is effective at neutralizing all variants of concern identified to date, including the Delta variant.

The newly identified antibody was isolated by scientists at Lausanne University Hospital (Lausanne, Switzerland) and EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland) using lymphocytes from COVID-19 patients enrolled in the ImmunoCoV study. This antibody is one of the most powerful identified so far against SARS-CoV-2.

Structural characterization of the antibody indicates that it binds to an area that is not subjected to mutations of the spike protein. Through this tight interaction, the antibody blocks the spike protein from binding to cells expressing the ACE2 receptor, which is the receptor the virus uses to enter and infect lung cells. That means the antibody halts the viral replication process, enabling a patient’s immune system to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 from the body. This protective mechanism was proven through in vivo tests on hamsters; specimens that were administered the antibody were protected against infection even after receiving a highly infectious dose.

In addition to its antiviral properties, the new antibody is designed to have a lasting effect in humans. A typical unaltered antibody provides protection for up to 3-4 weeks. But this new one can protect patients for 4-6 months. That makes it an interesting preventive-treatment option for unvaccinated at-risk individuals or for vaccinated individuals who are unable to produce an immune response. Immunocompromised patients, organ transplant recipients and those suffering from certain kinds of cancer could be protected against SARS-CoV-2 by receiving antibody injections two or three times a year.

The discovery of this new antibody marks a major step forward in the fight against COVID-19. It opens the door to improved treatments for severe forms of the disease and to enhanced prophylactic measures, especially for patients with weakened immune systems. However, this antibody is not intended to replace COVID-19 vaccines, which remain the most effective way to prevent infection. The researchers now plan to build on these promising results in association with a start-up company which will perform clinical development and production of the antibody-containing drug, through cooperation and intellectual property agreements. Clinical trials of the drug should begin in late 2022.

Related Links:
Lausanne University Hospital 
EPFL 


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