The evolution of the virus also makes it difficult to test people and get new antibodies to patients in time to work against existing ones. At a meeting in December, drugmakers asked US and European regulators to consider adopting new ways to approve new antibody drugs, especially those designed for immunocompromised people. He added that new antibody drugs that are similar to those already approved do not need to go through large clinical trials to test their effectiveness. Instead, a thorough lab test and a less invasive test, such as that done with the annual flu vaccine, may be enough.
Researchers are now looking for pure antibodies, which may be long-lasting and effective against many types of SARS-CoV-2, including those that may emerge in the future. Carnahan’s team has identified what they call a “small group of antibodies” that, at least in the lab, work against all existing types of Covid-19, including XBB.1.5. Now they are looking for a company to partner with that can develop those antibodies and test them in clinical trials. The group previously partnered with AstraZeneca, which sold Evusheld.
Scientists at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a New York-based biotech company that developed one of the world’s leading monoclonal antibody drugs, have discovered an antibody that binds to the region. outside receptor binding domain. “We were able to identify one group of viruses that are highly conserved,” meaning that this part of the virus hasn’t changed much, said Christos Kyratsous, who directs infectious disease research at Regeneron. “It has been preserved since the beginning of the epidemic until today. It is a very rare antibody, because unlike other antibodies that build this protective environment, it is very strong.”
And that gives him hope that lab-made antibodies designed to recognize this site will still work, even if the viruses they bind to continue to change in the future. However, Kyratous says there is often a trade-off between size and potency. There may be many antibodies that bind to many species but do not effectively inhibit them. So far, this seems to be doing both. In clinical trials this summer, Regeneron plans to test the antibody as a prophylaxis against the treatment of Covid-19.
In December, AstraZeneca began testing a replacement for Evusheld in trials in immunocompromised patients. In lab studies, the new long-acting antibody has been shown to neutralize all strains of SARS-CoV-2 tested so far, including strains that have proven resistant to other monoclonal antibodies, according to a company statement from January. AstraZeneca said it plans to develop the new antibody in the second half of 2023, pending regulatory approval. The company estimates that about 2 percent of the world’s population could benefit from monoclonal antibodies to protect against Covid-19.
For the rest of the population, Adarsh Bhimraj, an infectious disease doctor at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, thinks that our current vaccines and antivirals will be enough. “This is not 2020, where we don’t have a cure and the epidemic is killing more people and hospitalising them,” he says.
It is said that there should be a high level of availability of approved antibodies to treat Covid-19 as effective antivirals are available, and the death rate and hospitalization rate have decreased. He thinks drugmakers should show that new antibodies can reduce symptoms and shorten the length of the illness, rather than just getting people out of the hospital. “What is needed for patients needs to be studied in trials,” he says.
Currently, the FDA is recommending that hospitals and clinics have available monoclonal antibodies in case other types of antibodies are introduced into the US. “Although monoclonal antibodies do not work at this time, there is a possibility that circulating strains of Covid-19 will change so that monoclonal antibodies will work again in the future,” says Wales. “We don’t know yet.”