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KVAL: Design of long-acting SARS-COV-2 neutralizing antibodies

Alternative title: Design av langtidsvirkende SARS-COV-2 nøytraliserende antistoffer

Awarded: NOK 0.50 mill.

Elderly and immunocompromised patients may not raise protective vaccine-induced immunity against the pandemic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). As such, there is an urgent need for specific treatment that prevents development of severe coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19). Generation of monoclonal antibodies that can specifically target the virus followed by blocking of infection and elimination from the body is an attractive strategy for both therapy and preventing treatment, which is supported by recent emerging clinical data. However, antibody treatment is expensive and unfortunately not necessarily available for those that are in need at a global scale. As such, we have in partnership with the international non-profit organizations isolated fully-human monoclonal antibodies that effectively block all relevant SARS-CoV-2 strains of concern. The antibodies bind to independent and conserved binding sites on the spike protein, and as such, can therefore be given as a cocktail. However, the uptake and availability of such monoclonal antibodies have been extremely limited due to high doses required and intravenous formulations. In this project, we will benchmark a unique antibody technology, patented and developed by us, to investigate if this technology can be used to extend the plasma half-life and improve their distribution to the site of infection. This will be done in state-of-the-art humanized mice, which is the most relevant pre-clinical model in a translational perspective. If successful, the results will pave the way for testing in non-human primates and licensing of the technology as part of a commercialization strategy to provide affordable, effective treatment targeting both high-incoming and low- and middle-income countries.


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