Biotech Updates

MassBiologics Identifies Antibodies that may Protect Against COVID-19

August 26, 2020

A new study conducted by researchers at MassBiologics of UMass Medical School reveals that COVID specific IgA monoclonal antibodies may provide effective immunity in the respiratory system against the novel coronavirus. Sixteen years ago, MassBiologics developed an IgG monoclonal antibody that was effective against the first SARS virus that caused alarming illness. But then it disappeared, and MassBiologics, which was ready at the time to initiate a clinical trial, saved the research materials associated with that work.

When SARS-CoV-2 began to spread, MassBiologics researchers realized that that first human monoclonal antibody (MAB) might help with this new infection. They launched the process of resurrecting the old SARS program and retrieved frozen hybridoma cells developed 16 years earlier. Although there was a 90 percent similarity between the two coronaviruses, the MAB exhibited no binding to the current coronavirus. MassBiologics then evaluated another MAB from that earlier work, which was also only weakly effective.

Yang Wang, MD, PhD, deputy director for product discovery at MassBiologics associate professor of medicine and colleagues thought about their experience with a separate research program to develop "secretory IgAs (sIgA)," antibodies that play a crucial role in immunity on mucosal surfaces. MassBiologics has been investigating sIgA in the GI tract as a possible therapy to prevent gastrointestinal infections. The researchers sought to answer if similar anti-SARS-CoV-2 sIgA produces passive mucosal immunity in the respiratory tract, where COVID-19 disease is incredibly damaging. The approach worked, producing an antibody with binding affinity and neutralization activity. This antibody was designated MAb362.

For more details, read the article in UMass MedNews.

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