Recently, a variety of variant COVID-19 has appeared in South Africa, the United Kingdom and even Germany, causing a surge in infections in these countries.
Some scientists say that variants appearing in the United Kingdom and South Africa allow the novel coronavirus to avoid immune responses, which may lead to the reduction of the effectiveness of certain antibody drugs.
The website of The Wall Street Journal recently reported that in view of this, some pharmaceutical companies are stepping up the development of a new generation of COVID-19 drugs to fight the variant’s of the virus.
Virus variant’s challenges antibody therapy
Recently, the emergence of COVID-19 variants named B.1.1.7 and 501Y.V2 in the United Kingdom and South Africa respectively has attracted great attention.
In addition, the German Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation reported on January 18 that Bavaria has found a variant novel coronavirus different from the previous occurrences in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
These strains are more capable of transmitting than previous strains. Even if these strains are not more lethal, they may further burden the health care system.
Moreover, the more people infected with the virus, the more likely it is to variant, which may reduce the effectiveness of existing drugs.
Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb said in an earlier interview that the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant is worrying because it seems to invalidate certain medical countermeasures, especially antibody drugs.
“The discovery of the variant of COVID-19 in South Africa is worrying and may pose a threat to existing antibody treatments for the novel coronavirus,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNBC.
Experts say that although there is no evidence that COVID-19 variant will affect the efficacy of existing vaccines, these variants may still reduce the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody drugs, according to the CNBC website.
“Vaccines trigger immune responses that attack different parts of the virus, but monoclonal antibodies only target specific parts of the virus,” Fauci said.
In a report on January 13, CNBC’s website pointed out that Dave Ricks, CEO of Eli Lilly, said that the variant found in South Africa may invalidate an antibody drug produced by the company.
Eli Lilly’s antibody drug developed against COVID-19 was authorized by the FDA for emergency use in November 2020.
Ricks said that the COVID-19 variant worried them because of the large variants in the spine protein of the virus strain.
“The spine protein is exactly the target of antibody drugs, so in theory, this variant can avoid the attack of antibody drugs.”
“Cocktail” drugs are less affected
However, the Wall Street Journal reported that Jesse Bloom, an associate professor and biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the United States, said that another drug authorized by the FDA should still be effective because it was produced by Regenerative Yuan Pharmaceutical Company of the United States, which combines cocktail drugs with two different antibodies. , only one of the antibodies was affected by 501Y.V2.
“From the beginning, we’ve sought ‘cocktail’ therapy, and if there is a variation, there’s still an effective drug,” said Crystal Kiratsu, vice president of infectious disease and viral vector technology research at Regenerative Metapharma.
Regenerative Yuan Pharmaceuticals says its drugs seem to be effective against British variants.
The company is also developing more “cocktail drugs” to deal with future viral variant’s that may become drug-resistant to its drugs.
A spokesman for Eli Lilly said that the drug bamlanivimab produced by the company can completely fight against variant strains found in the UK in laboratory tests.
But independent scientists said they could not confirm the effectiveness of the drug, because Eli Lilly had not yet released the genetic sequence of the antibody.
“Generalized neutralization” antibodies are favored
In a report, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that researchers are developing “generally neutralizing” antibodies due to the anticipation of drug-resistant virus variant‘s.
They believe that this antibody can effectively fight against many different coronavirus variants.
Adi Mabu received $130 million in venture capital and plans to start a clinical trial of drugs this month.
The drug could be authorized as soon as the third quarter, the company said.
Coincidentally, Valve Biotechnology Co., Ltd. and GlaxoSmithKline in the United Kingdom are also cooperating to test an antibody drug.
They hope that even if there is a new variant of the novel coronavirus, the antibody drug will still work.
Most antibody drugs can only prevent the virus from entering new cells, but they develop antibodies that activate other immune systems to attack the virus after the virus infects the cell, explained George Scangos, CEO of Vil Biotechnology.
The devil is one foot taller, and the road is ten feet taller! The coronavirus is constantly changing, and the struggle between human beings and it is also a race against time.