The spike protein on the surface has also changed, so antibodies cannot recognize it.
The Washington Post (WP) reported on the 21st (local time) that a monoclonal antibody developed to protect people with weak immunity before the Corona 19 vaccine came out was no longer effective against the Corona 19 mutation.
“Monoclonal antibodies, like the Model T and the biplane, had their heyday,” Carl Diefenbach, head of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) AIDS Division and director of the COVID-19 antiviral program, told NPR. “Now is the time to look for other alternatives,” he said. Since the monoclonal antibody was first approved in 2020, before a COVID-19 vaccine appeared, 3.5 million doses have been injected, NPR said.
Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory by mimicking natural antibodies that recognize and fight viruses. The COVID-19 monoclonal antibody is designed to bind to the surface spike protein of the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) and prevent the virus from invading human cells.
However, since the Corona 19 monoclonal antibody is designed to match the original SARS-CoV-2, there are cases in which it does not bind to the spike protein of other Corona 19 mutants. So drugmakers stopped manufacturing altogether to avoid wasting millions of dollars making products that would soon be obsolete, NPR reported. This has put millions of people with weak immunity, who do not produce antibodies well even if they receive the Corona 19 vaccine, in a blind spot, the WP reported.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revised its emergency approval in January to use a mixture of two monoclonal antibodies to treat mild to moderate COVID-19. This is because only one species could not exert its effect on the Omicron mutation, which became the dominant species. The product is a combination of Bamranibib and Etesevimap from Eli Lilly, a multinational pharmaceutical company, and Casiribimem and Imdebimap from Regeneron, an American pharmaceutical company.
Pharmaceutical companies are now focusing on developing new monoclonal antibodies that will not become obsolete as SARS-CoV-2 mutations continue to occur. Canadian biotechnology company ‘Immune Biosolutions’ is conducting clinical trials of a monoclonal antibody in the form of a spray that can be sprayed into the human mouth. The powdered form contains antibodies targeting the helical stalk of SARS-CoV-2, which does not undergo significant changes when mutated.
NIH’s Antibody Biology group is taking a similar approach, reports NPR. Joshua Tan, head of the NIH Antibody Biology Research Team, said, “We are examining regions that maintain consistency and are less prone to mutations among the spike protein regions.”
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