This week WHO warned that there is no cure for the virus to kill or prevent the new coronavirus,media BGR reported. Several experts warn that the new coronavirus may never go away. But a growing number of reports detail a variety of treatments that can be used to improve the chances of recovery. Some of these treatments rely on drugs developed to treat other diseases. Others use stem cells. Then there is the recovery plasma therapy. Scientists are also working on a new drug linked to plasma therapy, an antibody-based drug that provides the same protection as plasma. Now, we know that one of the antibodies that blocks the binding of SARS-CoV-2 virus to cells has been shown to be 100% effective in the laboratory.
The new coronavirus binds to human cells through an S protein that binds to ACE2 receptors. Then the virus enters the cells and wreaks havoc in the cells. Cells “interpret” the genetic information of viruses, creating more and more viruses. Cells die in the process, and new replicas are released into the body, where they are free to infect other cells and continue to replicate.
The body’s immune system is able to detect pathogens and is very effective against them. Many people may be infected with COVID-19, but some of them do not show any symptoms. This means that the immune system has cleared the virus before it may cause complications, and the resulting antibodies can treat the disease for a period of time, making it immune to COVID-19 for an unknown period of time. That’s why plasma therapy works. Doctors use antibodies from donors to treat other patients with weakened immune systems. But the demand for plasma far exceeds the supply, which is why monoclonal antibody drugs have better results.
Sorrento is one of several companies that are working on the breakthrough drug. The pharmaceutical company has found what it describes as a “powerful anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody” that can completely block the virus’s binding to ACE2 cells in laboratory tests. The antibody, called STI-1499, says that in healthy cells, after four days of incubation, the virus is 100% suppressed.
Sorrento has screened “billions of antibodies” in its proprietary G-MAB all-human antibody library and identified hundreds of candidate antibodies that bind to S1 subunits of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein. More than a dozen of them can block the interaction between S1 and ACE2. STI-1499 stands out because it is able to “completely block the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to infect healthy cells in the experiment.” The company says the virus can be neutralized even in low-dose antibodies. The antibody is likely to be the first antibody to be used in a COVI-SHELD antibody composition that will include an antibody designed to treat potential mutations in coronaviruses. Assuming regulatory approval, STI-1499 is also expected to be an independent therapy in COVI-GUARD drugs.
Sorrento will request priority assessment and expedited review. Clinical trials will have to prove that the antibody works as well in patients as it does under laboratory conditions.
Assuming STI-1499 is effective and safe, Sorrento said, it plans to produce up to 200,000 doses a month while awaiting FDA approval, and the company plans to produce 1 million. Production capacity can be increased through partnerships to meet demand. If all goes well, STI-1499 could be one of the first new drugs specifically designed to treat COVID-19.