Covid-19 is a respiratory Coronavirus that has recently escalated worldwide to pandemic level becoming a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Covid-19 infection has a high death toll especially, but not exclusively, amongst elderly patients with pre-existing comorbidities.
No vaccines, immune therapeutics or effective drugs are currently available against Covid-19. Even if a successful solution were found, is expected that significant time will be needed for licensing of vaccines and large-scale implementation of immunization programs.
The MAbCo19 project will rapidly deliver human neutralizing monoclonal antibodies as prophylactic and therapeutic tools against Covid-19. Human antibodies have already proven to be powerful solutions for diseases like HIV, RSV and very recently provided the first cure for Ebola.
The project will exploit cutting edge technology, where B-cells from Covid-19 convalescent patients will be selected for their ability to produce high-affinity antibodies. The genes encoding these antibodies will be cloned in appropriate expression (antibody-production) systems, followed by preclinical evaluation of their protective efficacy and further rational engineering to achieve maximum therapeutic efficiency.
This special project is a Dr. Rappuoli’s “TLS Lab” initiative realized in cooperation with Istituto Nazionale per le Malattie Infettive Spallanzani, Tuscan Universities and AchilleS Vaccines. It is co-financed by EU Malaria Fund.
Covid-19 mAbs will be an invaluable tool to protect the most vulnerable sections of the population (elderly individuals especially those with multiple comorbidities) where mortality from Covid-19 is highest; medical personnel who are at high risk of exposure, thus preserving the numerical integrity and effectiveness of health systems; immune-suppressed patients and those who may not respond to vaccination. Furthermore, mAbs will enable refined identification protective epitopes towards rational design of vaccines against Covid-19, including those based on our mOMV platforms.
This project will therefore significantly accelerate the development of highly needed mAbs-based therapeutics and help the development of vaccines against Covid-19.