Demonstration of a potent, universal coronavirus monoclonal antibody therapy for all COVID-19 variants

The SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 has killed 6.3 million people worldwide since 2019, painfully highlighting the vulnerability of humanity to novel coronaviruses.

Researchers discovered a neutralizing monoclonal antibody that potentially acts as a potent universal coronavirus therapy against SARS-CoV-2 and all its variants of concern, including Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Omicron. It also shows effectiveness against the deadly previous coronaviruses SARS-CoV, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that emerged in China in 2002, and MERS-CoV, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome that appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It even shows effectiveness against several common cold coronaviruses.

This universal activity against all beta-coronaviruses results from a monoclonal antibody targeting the S2 stalk region of the viral spike (S) protein that is highly conserved among beta-coronaviruses, yet is also essential for the virus to attach and enter cells, leading to infection.

In animal experiments, the monoclonal antibody protected against infections when given as an intraperitoneal injection or a nasal dose. The study is published in the journal PLOS Pathogens by co-senior authors James J. Kobie, Ph.D., and Mark R. Walter, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Luis Martinez-Sobrido, Ph.D., of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas.

The monoclonal antibody, and another monoclonal antibody discovered earlier by the researchers, are being developed as a therapeutic cocktail for COVID-19 under license to Aridis Pharmaceuticals, a California biopharmaceutical company.

The overall goal of researchers at UAB, Texas Biomedical Research Institute and Aridis is to find antibodies that do not permit immune escape by mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This includes Omicron and any future variants of concern. It is hoped that identifying and studying such antibodies can lead to the development of vaccines that protect from all coronaviruses.

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