Researchers at Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, in alliance with China-based firm Harbour BioMed, have identified a fully human monoclonal antibody with activity against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
According to the team, the antibody could prevent SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting cultured cells.
The Nature Communications journal published the findings.
The discovery could facilitate a fully human antibody for the treatment and prevention of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.
Utrecht University research leader Berend-Jan Bosch said: “This research builds on the work our groups have done in the past on antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV that emerged in 2002/2003.
“Using this collection of SARS-CoV antibodies, we identified an antibody that also neutralises infection of SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells. Such a neutralising antibody has potential to alter the course of infection in the infected host, support virus clearance or protect an uninfected individual that is exposed to the virus.”
The antibody allegedly attaches to a domain conserved in SARS-CoV-2, as well as SARS-CoV, indicating its neutralising activity against both viruses.
This mechanism could reduce diseases caused by any future-emerging related coronaviruses.
Harbour BioMed founding chief scientific officer Frank Grosveld said: “This discovery provides a strong foundation for additional research to characterise this antibody and begin development as a potential Covid-19 treatment.
“The antibody used in this work is ‘fully human,’ allowing development to proceed more rapidly and reducing the potential for immune-related side effects.”
Therapeutic antibodies are commonly developed in other species and then humanised. Harbour BioMed’s H2L2 transgenic mouse technology was leveraged to generate this anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody.
Researchers require further analysis to assess the antibody’s ability to protect or mitigate the severity of disease in humans.