New antibody therapies found to potentially fight COVID-19

Photo of Zhiqiang An, PhD, professor and Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, and faculty member at MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Researchers have discovered a potential new antibody therapy for COVID-19. (Photo by UTHealth)

Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB Health) have discovered a potential new antibody therapy for COVID-19. The study was published in Nature Communications.

Antibodies are proteins that allow the body to fight viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Antibody-based therapy is a viable drug modality for the treatment of COVID-19,” said Zhiqiang An, PhD, professor and Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, and faculty member at MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. “By leveraging the unique antibody drug discovery capabilities at UTHealth and the strong virology expertise at UTMB, we started to generate SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies in February of last year. The lead antibody combination out of our research is now being developed with a biotech partner for the treatment of COVID-19.”

Researchers identified a combination of two antibodies CoV2-06 and CoV2-14 that may help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“With the onslaught of the COVID-19 crisis we are fortunate to have world-class research teams led by Drs. An and Shi in the forefront of developing new preventive and therapeutic modalities that offer great promise in the management of the disease,” said Bruce D. Butler, PhD, vice president of research and technology at UTHealth.

“Synergizing the strengths of UTHealth’s cutting-edge antibody platform and UTMB Health’s world-class virology has led to the success of this project. Such cross-institutional collaborations within the UT System should be expanded to other disease indications,” said co-author Pei-Yong Shi, PhD, professor and John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Innovations in Molecular Biology in Chemistry at UTMB Health.

Additional authors include Zhiqiang Ku, PhD; Ningyan Zhang, PhD; Xiaohua Ye, PhD; and Hang Su with UTHealth. Additional UTMB Health authors are Xuping Xie, PhD; Xianwen Zhang; and Antonio E. Muruato.

The work was supported by grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, National Institutes of Health, Welch Foundation, Sealy Smith Foundation, Kleberg Foundation, John S. Dunn Foundation, Amon G. Carter Foundation, Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation, and the Summerfield Robert Foundation.

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