The most effective corona virus antibodies identified will form the basis of a passive COVID-19 vaccine

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However, researchers test each molecule for fear that it may bind to various tissues in the body and attack them instead of the virus.

Corona viruses in the bloodstream. Illustration: shutterstock

Researchers at the German Center for Degenerative Diseases (DZNE) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin in Berlin Identify highly effective antibodies against Corona virus SARS-CoV-2 And now they are In the race for the development of a passive vaccine. In this process, they also discovered that some SARS-CoV-2 antibodies bind tissue samples from various organs, which can cause unwanted side effects. They report their findings in the scientific journal Cell.

Scientists initially isolated nearly 600 different blood antibodies from people who overcame COVID-19, the disease triggered by SARS-CoV-2. Through laboratory tests, they were able to reduce this number to some antibodies that were particularly effective in resistance to the virus. Then, they artificially produced these antibodies using cell cultures. The neutralizing antibodies identified bind to the virus, as revealed by crystalline analysis, thus preventing the pathogen from entering cells and proliferating. In addition, the detection of viruses by antibodies helps the cells of the immune system to eliminate the pathogen. Studies in hamsters – which, like humans, are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 – confirmed the high efficacy of the selected antibodies: “If the antibodies were given after infection, the hamsters developed symptoms of mild disease at most. The infection – the animals did not get sick, “said Dr. Jacob Cray, the current research project coordinator and researcher at DZNE, who is one of the first two authors of the current publication.

Passive vaccine antibodies

Treatment of infectious diseases using antibodies has a long history. For COVID-19, this approach is also being investigated through the use of blood-taken plasma from recovering patients. Donor antibodies are transferred with the plasma. “Ideally, the most effective antibody is produced in a controlled manner on an industrial scale and of constant quality. This is the goal we are striving for,” said Dr. Monson Reinka, who is also the first author of the present article.

“Three of our antibodies appear to be particularly suitable for clinical development,” explained Prof. Dr. Harold Pruss, leader of the research group at NEDZ and also a senior physician at the Experimental Neurology Clinic at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. -CoV-2. “Such a project requires collaboration with industrial partners. That’s why scientists are collaborating with Miltenyi Biotec.”

In addition to treating patients, protecting healthy people who have been in contact with infected people is also a potential application. For how long the protection will last – this issue will need to be explored in clinical trials. According to Prof. Pruss, “This is because unlike an active vaccine, passive vaccination involves the administration of active antibodies, which degenerate after a while. In general, the protection provided by a passive vaccine is less durable than that provided by an active vaccine. The effect of a passive vaccine is almost immediate, while an active vaccine needs time to develop. “It is better that both options are available so that there is a flexible response depending on the situation.”

Modern technologies

Kirya, Reinka, Pruss and their colleagues usually deal with autoimmune diseases of the brain, in which antibodies mistakenly attack neurons. “In the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, it was clear that our resources needed to be used for other purposes as well,” said Prof. Pruss. For the current project, researchers are benefiting from a project funded by the Helmholtz Association: “BaoBab’s Innovation Lab.” In this context, they are developing and refining technologies for the characterization and production of antibodies, which they are currently implementing. “Now, we are working with our industrial partner to determine the conditions that will enable the most efficient large-scale production of the antibodies we have identified,” Pruss said. “The next step is clinical trials – tests in humans. However, this can not be expected before the end of the year at the earliest. Planning for this has already begun.”

Possible side effects

During the investigations, the researchers discovered another discovery: some of the antibodies that are particularly effective against the corona virus, are particularly linked to proteins in the brain, heart muscle and blood vessels. In tests with tissue samples from mice, some of the neutralizing antibodies showed such a cross-reaction. Thus, they were not included in the development of the passive vaccine. “These antibodies bind not only to the virus, but also to proteins in the body that have nothing to do with the virus. Future research is needed to analyze whether the associated tissues may mistakenly become targets of attacks by the immune system itself,” said Prof. Pross. It is not possible to predict at this time whether these laboratory findings are relevant to humans. “On the one hand, we need to be vigilant to detect autoimmune reactions that may occur in the context of COVID-19 vaccines at an early stage. On the other hand, these findings may contribute to ensuring the development of an even safer vaccine,” the scientist said.

To the scientific paper

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