Promising COVID-19 Antibodies Examined Using Cryo-EM and X-ray Crystallography

June 03, 2020 | Biotechnology

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Curbing the COVID-19 pandemic will rely on vaccines. But, they will take time to develop, test and manufacture, and distribute. Some researchers, given the urgent and immediate need for tools to help combat the spread, are looking to neutralizing antibodies to fill in some of the gaps. An international team, led by Davide Corti, PhD, senior vice president of antibody research at Vir Biotechnology and David Veesler, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Washington, has been working on a complementary approach. They are working to identify neutralizing antibodies that could be used as a preventative treatment or as a post-exposure therapy.

Their latest findings, which include data gathered at Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), indicate that antibodies derived from SARS survivors could potentially block entry of SARS-CoV-2 and other closely related coronaviruses into host cells. In a study published this week in Nature, titled “Cross-neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 by a human monoclonal SARS-CoV antibody,” the scientists noted that the most promising candidate antibody is already on an accelerated development path toward clinical trials.

“We are very excited to have found this potent neutralizing antibody that we hope will participate in ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Veesler.

Leveraging the immune system

Previous research on coronaviruses shows that neutralizing antibodies last one or two years. In addition, scientists can manufacture pharmaceutical quantities of identical antibodies so long as they know the protein sequence. Mass-produced antibodies may then be given to people who do not yet have any of their own antibodies against that particular pathogen.

Soon after SARS-CoV-2 emerged in late 2019, Veesler and his colleagues began screening for potential neutral... Want to read more? Visit the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN)​ Blog.

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