A team of researchers from The Netherlands has identified a fully human monoclonal antibody that prevents the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus from infecting cultured cells. Researchers from Utrecht University, Erasmus Medical Center, and Harbour BioMed (HBM) reported the discovery, an initial step towards developing a fully human antibody to treat or prevent the respiratory disease COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Associate Professor Berend-Jan Bosch, research leader at Utrecht University, and co-lead author of the Nature Communications study said that their current research is built on the work done in the past on antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV that emerged in 2002/2003. From this collection of antibodies, their team identified an antibody that also neutralizes infection of SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells. Bosch notes that the antibody binds to a domain that is conserved in both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. "This cross-neutralizing feature of the antibody suggests it may have potential in mitigation of diseases caused by future-emerging related coronaviruses," he added.
Generated using Harbour BioMed's H2L2 transgenic mouse technology, the discovery provides a strong foundation for additional research to characterize this antibody and begin development as a potential COVID-19 treatment, said Frank Grosveld, co-lead author on the study, professor of cell biology at Erasmus Medical Center, and Founding Chief Scientific Officer at Harbour BioMed. He added that the antibody used in their work is "fully human," allowing development to proceed more rapidly and reducing the potential for immune-related side effects.