Test-tube immunity: how scientists artificially create antibodies against SARS-CoV-2

Monoclonal antibodies can help with almost all new strains of the new type of coronavirus, but they cost a lot

expensive and will not replace the vaccine.

Artificial, off-the-shelf, monoclonal antibodies. What does all this mean?

These are all different notation for the same method.treatment. To understand how it works, you need to remember how common antibodies work, which are composed of a Y-shaped protein. Our immune system produces them independently. These antibodies then bind to antigens on the surface of the pathogens.

Если говорить о моноклональных антителах, то они искусственно повторяют процесс работы обычных антител и показывают иммунной системе, где находится вирус, который нужно атаковать.

Monoclonal antibodies accurately bind to the antigen due to special antigen-binding sites that have a high specificity for it.

Does this mean that such antibodies will help against any virus, even SARS-CoV-2?

In theory, yes. But in practice, it is very important in what way monoclonal antibodies are created and whether they have passed all clinical trials.

For example, the drug LY-CoV555, which was createdby Eli Lilly AbCellera, was developed from blood samples from a US patient with COVID-19. The researchers used the man's successful immune response to create an antibody-based drug.

Also scientists from the American company SorrentoTherapeutics researched billions of different antibodies and selected several hundred of the most effective ones that bind to the spike protein of the coronavirus in order to find an antibody that can suppress the virus with 100% probability. They found such a candidate, this is STI-1499. While the researchers were engaged in preclinical studies, information on the safety of their development has not been confirmed.

But the staff of the Institute of Molecular andCell Biology of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences created a set of panels of different monoclonal antibodies, which they received from human B cells - a functional type of lymphocytes that play an important role in providing humoral immunity. During the work, the authors used patients who were already on the mend. This is the first such Russian study; now the development of scientists is undergoing preclinical trials.

It can be concluded that these methods are quite laborious and not all of them, by analogy with vaccines, will be admitted to mass use.

Will such antibodies help against different strains?

This cannot be guaranteed 100%.But, according to a study by biologists led by a professor at the University of Washington in St. Louis, some of the monoclonal antibodies remain effective. The authors of the work decided to check how different monoclonal antibodies cope with new strains of coronavirus.

They conducted experiments on mice that were infected with strains from South Africa, Great Britain, India, Brazil and the United States. The authors used both a single drug and combinations thereof to enhance the effect.

As a result, it turned out that almost all combinations of these drugs protected mice from infection with SARS-CoV-2, and a single use was mainly effective against the virus.

But it turned out that two types of antibodies - 2B04 / 47D11 and LY-CoV555 - did not prevent the penetration of all new strains of coronavirus into the cells of the brain and nasopharynx.

Is such a method of treatment being developed in Russia?

Yes, as we mentioned in the Methods partobtaining monoclonal antibodies, preclinical studies of neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 have started in Russia. According to the developers, they created a combination of antibodies that was effective even against a new strain of the virus.

The researchers said the first phase of preclinical trials should be completed by December 2022.

What is the problem with monoclonal antibodies?

This method of treatment has one serious drawback - its cost. The annual course of treatment with monoclonal antibodies for a person with cancer in America is approximately $ 143,000.

For other diseases, the situation is similar,therefore, due to the high cost, this method of treatment is not suitable for everyone. According to a Wellcome Trust report, 99% of respiratory syncytial virus deaths from childhood pneumonia occur in low- and middle-income countries. But 99% of sales of the drug "Sinagis", which is aimed at the prevention of this virus using monoclonal antibodies, are concentrated in Europe and the United States.

Monoclonal antibodies are a good boost for a weakened immune system, but not a substitute for vaccinations or a panacea for remedies.

In addition, this method of treatment must passno less checks than a real vaccine, so in any case, you will have to wait for official publications in international journals, as well as for the passage of all stages of clinical trials.

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