University of Toronto Researchers Developing Antibodies to 'Neutralize' Covid-19

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - 03:34

Researchers at University of Toronto's Donnelly Centre are developing antibodies to help boost patient immunity and 'neutralize' novel coronavirus before it invades cells.

According to the University official website, Sachdev Sidhu and his collaborators are engineering antibody molecules that can neutralize the novel coronavirus in the body before it invades cells.

“With our two funded projects, we are working to develop molecules that can target the virus both inside human cells and on the outside to prevent it from getting in,” says Sidhu, who is a professor of molecular genetics in the Faculty of Medicine.

Such antibodies are naturally produced by the body in response to infection, but researchers hope to reduce the duration and severity of the disease by boosting the immune system with injected antibodies. To take one existing example: Neutralizing antibodies are used to treat rabies, which is also caused by a virus.

The antibodies will be engineered to block the so-called S-protein that forms spikes on the virus's surface. The spikes lock on to a protein called ACE2 on the surface of human cells to gain entry. Coating viral particles with synthetic antibodies should prevent the spikes from binding to ACE2.

“Our advances in antibody engineering technologies and access to the complete genomes of the COVID-19 virus and its relatives provides us with an opportunity to create tailored therapeutic antibodies at a scale and speed that was not possible even a few years ago,” says Sidhu.

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