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Belgian-developed antibody effective against new variants

Credit: Belga

A Covid-19 antibody developed by the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) is effective against new variants, the VIB announced in a press release on Tuesday.

As a result, clinical trials on humans are set to start soon, according to the VIB.

“Mid 2020, VIB set up ExeVir Bio to bring this antibody treatment into the clinic. In due time, the spin-off will announce the start of Phase I and II clinical trials to test the drugs for safety and efficacy in Covid-19 patients,” the press release reads.

“The findings are significant as many other antibodies in development have lost functionality against one or more of the new variants,” the VIB said. The new variants “have undergone changes in their spike protein, making it more difficult for these human immune response-derived antibodies to bind the virus.”

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The VIB’s antibody, in contrast, was extracted from a llama, and “is smaller than human antibodies, allowing it to potently target a unique and highly conserved region in the viral spike protein,” the VIB said.

“As this region is difficult to access for the more bulky human antibodies, it is subject to a much lower selective pressure imposed by the human immune system.”

“Furthermore, mutations are less likely to occur in this region as it appears important for the intricate functioning of the virus’ spike protein,” they added.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times