An antibody developed by Boston Children’s Hospital researchers has been shown to neutralize all major SARS-CoV-2 variants, including all Omicron strains, which could lead to a new treatment, the hospital said.
“We hope this antibody will prove to be as effective in patients as it has been in pre-clinical evaluations thus far,” Dr. Frederick Alt of the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children’s, a senior investigator on the study, said in a statement from the hospital last month. “If it does, it might provide a new therapeutic.”
He said the antibody could “also contribute to new vaccine strategies.”
Using genetically modified mice, hospital researchers, collaborating with colleagues from Duke University, found the antibody SP1-77, which neutralizes the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and its variants including Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron, the hospital said.
SP1-77 “potently neutralized all major SARS-CoV-2 variants through the recently emergent BA.5 variant,” researchers said in the study, which was published in August in the journal Science Immunology.
If further research pans out, SP1-77 “would have potential to be a therapeutic against current and newly-arising” variants of concern, said the study, whose first author was Boston Children’s researcher Sai Luo.
The study also suggested that SP1-77 might be “useful in a cocktail” with other currently authorized antibody treatments such as bebtelovimab.
“SP1-77 … neutralizes these variants by a novel mechanism,” co-author Dr. Tomas Kirchhausen of Boston Children’s said in the statement. “These properties may contribute to its broad and potent activity.”
The researchers are seeking patents for the antibody and the genetically altered mice used to produce it.
“It was a pleasure to work with this dedicated collaborative team whose diverse expertise allowed SP1-77 to be brought to light,” said Alt. He said he looked forward to using the same methods to discover “antibodies with therapeutic potential against other newly emerging pathogens.”
“This is very early-stage proof-of-concept work to illustrate that broadly neutralizing antibodies can be generated using a mouse model,” Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Prevention.com. “Such work, if replicated and expanded, could form the basis of new monoclonal antibody products as well as a vaccine.”
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