Newswise — SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (October 19, 2020) – Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed) Professor Luis Martinez-Sobrido, Ph.D., recently released study findings, alongside colleagues at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Aridis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. indicating that a human monoclonal antibody (hmAb) 1212C2 showed promise for further clinical development for preventative use or as a therapy for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Earlier this year, the consortium of scientists isolated specific B cells from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 and developed a panel of hmAbs that not only bind to SARS-CoV-2 infected cells, but also neutralize the ability of the virus to infect cells. The hmAb 1212C2 was subsequently licensed to Aridis Pharmaceuticals.
Taking the study a step further, the scientists have shown, as outlined in the study on BioRxiv, that delivering hmAb 1212C2 directly to the lung through inhalation using Aridis’ proprietary formulation and plasma half-life extension, or by injection showed significant reduction in viral load in the lungs.
Antibodies are proteins produced by the body’s immune system to fight off infections. Monoclonal antibodies are commercially or experimentally produced antibodies derived from the original antibody producing cell. Scientists worldwide have shown that the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) region of SARS-CoV-2’s Spike protein is a key target for any drug that aims to stop the virus from attaching to cells through the human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) protein. If the virus can’t attach to the cell, it can’t infect and propagate. The hmAbs were discovered by the labs of Dr. James Kobie and Dr. Mark Walter at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in collaboration with Dr. Martinez-Sobrido.
In both lab and animal experiments, hmAb 1212C2 produced a preventative and therapeutic effect against SARS-CoV-2. In hamster models, delivering formulated and plasma half-life extended hmAb 1212C2 through a nebulizer at low dosage produced a significant reduction of the virus and lessened disease progression in the lungs.
“These are critical findings as we look to develop vaccines and therapies that are not only effective, but also efficiently manufactured and easily administered to patients,” Dr. Martinez-Sobrido explained.
Nearly 40 million people globally have contracted COVID-19 with more than one million deaths, and the worldwide pandemic is not slowing down. Neutralizing antibodies developed either by natural infection or through vaccination, or administered as a therapeutic are critical to the overall protection of the human population.
“Administering targeted human antibodies that bind tightly to SARS-CoV-2 is a promising approach to advance therapies. We must have more effective therapies to reduce the death rate from this ongoing pandemic. I am excited about the opportunity to advance hmAb 1212C2 with Aridis Pharmaceuticals,” said Dr. Larry S. Schlesinger, President/CEO of Texas Biomed.
The cohort of scientists licensed hmAb 1212C2 to Aridis for further development as both a possible prophylactic for preventing COVID-19 and as a treatment for COVID-19, while also looking at opportunities to use this hmAb in combination with other hmAbs, or with other antiviral therapies.
Staff in Dr. Luis Martinez-Sobrido’s lab who contributed to this research include Jun-Gyu Park, Fatai Oladunni, Chengjin Ye and Kevin Chiem.
Texas Biomed is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to eradicating infection and advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. Texas Biomed partners with researchers and institutions around the world to develop vaccines and therapeutics against viral pathogens causing AIDS, hepatitis, hemorrhagic fever, tuberculosis and parasitic diseases responsible for malaria and schistosomiasis disease. The Institute has programs in host-pathogen interaction, disease intervention and prevention and population health to understand the links between infectious diseases and other diseases such as aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. For more information on Texas Biomed, go to www.TxBiomed.org.