Potent neutralizing antibodies target new regions of coronavirus spike
Scientists are racing to develop approaches to protect against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Several vaccine candidates are now in clinical trials. Another possible approach involves antibodies, proteins made by the immune system to fight infection. Antibodies work to neutralize viruses by binding to their surface and blocking entry into a person’s cells.
Antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-2 could be produced in a lab and given to people to treat infection. These lab-made antibodies, called monoclonal antibodies, could also serve as a prevention option until a vaccine is available. Vaccines prompt the immune system to make antibodies against a virus. Monoclonal antibodies are delivered directly to the body, through injection or intravenous infusions, and circulate in the blood.
Monoclonal antibodies are currently used to treat a variety of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and cancer. They may be the only option for older adults and others who can’t develop or maintain an adequate immune response after vaccination. But researchers must first identify powerful antibodies to neutralize SARS-CoV-2.