- Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to recognize and signal infectious agents.
- Monoclonal antibodies are those made to fight a particular disease.
- They can be injected as a prophylaxis, that is to say for a preventive purpose.
There is a new weapon to fight Covid-19. Swiss researchers have developed an antibody capable of acting against all forms of virus, including its variants. This work was carried out by scientists from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the Center Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois. They appeared in Cell Reports.
The most powerful antibody ever identified
To develop this new shield against Covid-19, the researchers first isolated lymphocytes, i.e. immune cells, from an infected patient. According to them, the antibody discovered is the most powerful ever identified among all the antibodies capable of acting against the coronavirus. It attacks a part of the Spike protein, which is not subject to mutations, which allows SARS-CoV-2 to enter our cells. The antibody blocks the interactions between this protein and the ACE2 receptors, one of the targets of the virus. This action has two effects: viral replication is interrupted and the immune system eliminates the infectious agent from the body. “This protective effect has been demonstrated in vivo, when hamsters treated with the antibody were protected from infection after being exposed to a highly infectious dose of virus.“, explain the authors in a press release.
A prolonged action, beneficial to fragile people
The researchers then modified it to have a prolonged action: “A classic unmodified antibody will have protective effects for a maximum of 3 to 4 weeks, they point out. Here, the antibody developed will act for 4 to 6 months. “ For scientists, it could be useful in vulnerable people, unable to produce an immune response, despite vaccination, such as people who are immunosuppressed, those who have received an organ transplant or those with cancer. All these people could be protected “thanks to an injection of the antibody two to three times a year“. The researchers nevertheless point out that these injections are not intended to replace vaccination, which remains.”the most effective way to protect yourself against infection“.
Upcoming clinical trials
“The CHUV and EPFL – within the framework of collaboration and intellectual property agreements – are in discussions with a start-up whose mission will be to ensure the production and clinical development of newly discovered antibodies.“, indicate the authors in their press release. Scientists hope to be able to start clinical trials by the end of 2022. If they validate these results once again, this new monoclonal antibody could be one of the new tools in the fight against the virus.