Researchers Find Potential Universal SARS-CoV-2 Therapy

A new neutralizing monoclonal antibody could become an inhaled cocktail for long-term COVID-19 prevention.

Researchers have discovered a neutralizing monoclonal antibody that could become a universal therapy for SARS-CoV-2 and all subsequent variants.1 The antibody could also be effective for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome(SARS), Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), and even common cold versions of COVID-19.1

"SARS-CoV-2 has caused the most infections and deaths worldwide. New variants pose the risk of evading the immune system—even in vaccinated and previously infected individuals—and there remains the potential for other genetically distinct coronaviruses to emerge as new pandemic strains in the future," said co-author James J. Kobie, PhD, in a press release. "For these reasons, finding new therapeutic and prophylactic drugs and vaccine strategies that have universal activity against the coronavirus is essential for protecting humanity against the current and future beta-coronavirus outbreaks or pandemics.”1

In a study published in PLOS Pathogens, the monoclonal antibody protected against infections after being given to animals as an intraperitoneal injection or nasal dose.1

Aridis Pharmaceuticals is licensed to develop a therapeutic cocktail using this monoclonal antibody as well as a previously discovered antibody.1 Since the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates and will continue to do so, experts at Aradis and the authors of the study wanted to find antibodies that do not permit immune escape.1

Coronaviruses have spike proteins that allow the virus to penetrate host cells, causing infection.2 The S (spike) protein, which creates the spikes on the virus’ surface, is crucial to penetrating host cells.2 A goal of current research is finding antibodies to the S2 (stalk region) of the spike because it is the part of the virus that barely mutates.1

In the study, researchers at UAB Hospital began screening adult convalescent blood samples. Memory B cells in the blood bound to the S2 protein, mimicking a spike, and were then used to create a panel of cells which could produce human monoclonal antibodies (hmAbs) for screening.1

The 1249A8 hmAb had the most neutralizing activity against all strains up until Omicron, along with 2 common cold viruses.1 It protected mice from SARS, as measured by a stable body weight and lung clarity following 4 days of infection.1 The 1213H7 hmAb showed promise against the viral S glycoprotein and receptor-binding domain of the virus protein spike, as well.1

The researchers collaborated with Arabis to create a nasal dose of the cocktail with 1249A8 and 1213H7, which was tested on hamsters.1 The cocktail was issued 12 hours after the hamsters were injected with 1 of 2 SARS-CoV-2 variants, and it had therapeutic effects.1

"These results indicate in vivo cooperativity between S1- and S2-specific neutralizing hmAbs, and that potent universal coronavirus-neutralizing mAbs with therapeutic potential can be induced in humans and can guide universal coronavirus vaccine development," Kobie said in the press release.1

Aridis is calling the cocktail of 2 hmAbs AR-701.1 Designed for inhalation, it has a potential year-long efficacy in humans.1

Reference:

  1. Demonstration of a potent, universal coronavirus monoclonal antibody therapy for all COVID-19 variants. Press release. The University of Alabama at Birmingham. July 21, 2022. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.uab.edu/news/research/item/12986-demonstration-of-a-potent-universal-coronavirus-monoclonal-antibody-therapy-for-all-covid-19-variants
  2. Cuffari, Benedette. What are Spike Proteins? News: Medical Life Sciences. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-are-Spike-Proteins.aspx