- Panel of 15 potent antibodies selected that are optimally suited to clinical development and manufacturing
- Monoclonal antibodies have the potential to both treat infected patients and provide protection to the “at risk” population during the pandemic
- Viral neutralisation data independently verified by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)
- Project is part of an industry-wide collaboration under the BioIndustry Association’s antibody taskforce
London, UK – Global Healthcare Opportunities, or GHO Capital Partners LLP (GHO), the European specialist investor in healthcare, acknowledges the announcement from its portfolio company, FairJourney Biologics. FairJourney Biologics and IONTAS, two leading antibody discovery Clinical Research Organisations (CROs) that joined forces this year, announced the discovery of potent SARS-CoV2 neutralising antibodies as potential therapeutics for COVID-19.
The newly-identified panel of antibodies have been shown to block infection at doses as low as 20pM in pseudoviral assays and 100pM in live coronavirus assays, surpassing or matching the best antibodies reported. This viral neutralisation efficiency was independently verified by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), a key player in assuring the quality of biological medicines nationally and internationally, including for the World Health Organisation.
In an unparalleled timeframe of just two months, hundreds of virus-neutralising antibodies were isolated and characterised from the blood of donors who were recovering from COVID-19. A final panel of 15 potent SARS-CoV2 neutralising antibodies were then selected, which have biophysical properties well suited for downstream drug development, such as low polyreactivity and resistance to aggregation. This reduces the risk for future clinical development and manufacturing.
While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19, passive immunisation using monoclonal antibodies may also play a vital role. Viral neutralising antibodies can offer a two-in-one approach; they can be used both to treat symptomatic individuals following acute exposure, and as a prophylactic to protect healthcare workers and at-risk groups, including individuals who respond poorly to vaccines.
John McCafferty, Chief Scientific Officer of IONTAS, commented:“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, biopharmaceutical companies have demonstrated the capability and willingness to break boundaries in how we work together to benefit the global community. In so doing, extraordinary advances have been made on tight time scales. IONTAS and FairJourney Biologics’ achievement, which takes advantage of our efficiency and years of experience in antibody discovery, is a prime example of this.”
Antonio Parada, CEO of IONTAS and FairJourney Biologics, added: “We are proud of the work we have done to develop highly potent SARS-CoV2 neutralising antibodies in such a short time. The viral neutralising effect of these antibodies position them to be able to both block and treat infection. Our next step is to identify partners with the expertise and ability to progress these promising assets into the clinic, with an aim to develop a treatment for COVID-19.”
This project was undertaken as part of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) Antibody Task Force, which developed an accelerated and rigorous multi-pronged assessment approach in order to create and identify the best antibodies within months.
Antibody therapies give clinicians additional therapeutic options in the fight against COVID-19 alongside other approaches such as vaccines. The BIA coalition includes organisations from across the UK biotech community, including representatives from industry, academia and charities, to rapidly discover, develop and manufacture antibody therapies to protect against, or treat, COVID-19. It aims to produce an effective therapy to treat newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and provide a preventative therapy for high-risk individuals such as healthcare workers and/or the elderly.
FairJourney Biologics and IONTAS announced their partnership to expedite the identification of effective antibodies for a therapeutic to treat COVID-19 patients in April this year. It was on the back of this successful partnership that, in May 2020, the two CROs announced they would be combining their operations.