25 Mar 2021 Updates

EU-funded researchers find potential new treatment for coronavirus

The European Commission has announced that European researchers have developed a promising second generation antibody that is effective in neutralising the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants, which could be used in both prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

With new diseases like COVID-19, there are no antibodies ready to identify and fight the new coronavirus. However, with this novel biomolecule, named COV-X2 – an antibody engineered to bind to two independent parts of the virus simultaneously, thus making it bispecific – researchers have combined into a single molecule the advantages of a combination of antibody treatments. In practice, this means that even if the virus mutates in one part, there will still be a second viral target for the antibody to bind to. Its nature confers high potency and makes COV-X2 a promising candidate worth testing in human clinical trials with the prospects, if proven safe and effective, for use in both prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

The Antibody Therapy Against Coronavirus (ATAC) project received a €3 million grant in April 2020 as one of 18 projects funded from an emergency call for expressions of interest in response to the COVID-19 pandemic under Horizon 2020. The ATAC project is led by Karolinska Institute (SE). Other members of the consortium include: San Matteo Hospital in Pavia (IT), the Institute for Research in Biomedicine Technical University (CH), Technical University Braunschweig (DE) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Additional collaborations with the Rockefeller University (US) and the Czech Academy of Science were instrumental in demonstrating the bispecific efficacy of the novel antibody. The Commission foresees to reinforce the ATAC project through the HERA incubator designed for addressing the emerging threat of coronavirus variants, in order to perform a phase I clinical evaluation of COV-X2.

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