Indeed, when the Regeneron team screened single antibodies against the coronavirus, it found the virus could escape them fairly easily within just a few generations of replication, making the single antibody unable to work pretty quickly.
The researchers say they were able to decrease the chances of resistance by creating a cocktail of two antibodies.
When they screened the cocktail, the virus didn’t escape it, suggesting that the combination might prevent resistance.
The Regeneron cocktail is already being tested in humans.
In other studies, scientists from the Scripps Research Institute say they screened more than 1,800 antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients and found powerful “super antibodies” that bind to the spikes of the virus to block infection. One of these was able to protect hamsters dosed with the virus from getting sick.
A separate team, from the Netherlands, studied the blood of COVID-19 survivors and identified 19 monoclonal antibodies, which they say will aid scientists looking to design vaccines and could also help develop an antibody cocktail against the virus.
Finally, an international team led by the antibody company Adimab in Lebanon, NH, reported on the discovery of antibodies that neutralize several coronaviruses in the SARS family, including SARS-CoV-2. The hope is that vaccines that generate these antibodies may offer broad protection against several infections. And a therapy based on them might protect against several infections.
And these are not the only antibody therapies in development.
“I have heard that there are as many as 18 companies that are planning trials of antibodies right now, and several of them are already in clinical trials,” says Crowe.
Eli Lilly, for example, announced tests of an antibody therapy for COVID-19 on June 1. The company expects to have early information on how safe and tolerable the therapy is by the end of the month.
Crowe’s team, at Vanderbilt, has also developed two antibodies that have been tested against SARS-CoV-2 infection in primates and worked well, he says.
One candidate therapy has already been made, Crowe says, even as he waits for his research to be published. He has two studies under review presenting the science behind his antiviral antibodies in Nature and Nature Medicine. Crowe is the founder of a biotech company called IDBiologics. He’s also working with drug company AstraZeneca.