Join our mailing list and receive the monthly BioVox newsletter for free!

RELATED ARTICLES
Professors of Product Development from UAntwerp are looking at emergency production of mouth masks

At the University of Antwerp, twelve product developers are working day and night to develop oral masks. "Together with industrial partners, we tr…


Gates Foundation commissions large coronavirus study from KU Leuven

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is to provide samples of 15,000 therapeutic molecules to the Gasthuisberg hospital at the University of Leuven…


Edible antibodies to prevent and treat gut diseases

Belgian researchers have developed edible antibodies that can prevent gut bacterial infections. Normally antibodies need to be injected, but the a…

POPULAR TAGS

VIB achieves important milestone in the development of a COVID-19 drug

Written by Guest Author on in the category Insights with the tags , , .


Earlier this year, the lab of Xavier Saelens (VIB-UGent) announced the discovery of a unique antibody that is capable of binding the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). The antibody was developed in collaboration with two research groups in the US. The team has now established that the antibody can neutralize a lab variant of the virus, an important step forward in the development of a potential antiviral drug against the new coronavirus. This progress was made possible thanks to the intensive efforts of various teams in the VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology.

An antibody against COVID-19

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the team of professor Xavier Saelens has been working relentlessly on a potential treatment for the viral infection. Earlier work of the scientists identified an antibody that binds an important part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Good teamwork is crucial. We can count on the expertise in the research center, colleagues from VIB Discovery Sciences and the VIB Innovation & Business team. - Dr. Bert Schepens, VIB - UGent
 

Today, the lab announces new findings, in cooperation with the labs of Jason McLellan (University of Texas at Austin, US) and Markus Hoffmann and Stefan Pöhlmann (German Primate Center – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Göttingen, Germany). These findings show that the antibody can neutralize the virus. This is an important step forward in the pursuit of an antiviral drug against the new coronavirus.

En route to protection

The new results provide the first evidence that the antibody could prevent the new coronavirus from infecting human cells. Importantly, the antibody can also be produced at large-scale using production processes that are common in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Prof. Saelens emphasizes: “This important step forward in the fight against COVID-19 is the result of great teamwork by members of my lab and professor Nico Callewaert’s research group (VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology).”

The moment we observed virus neutralization in these experiments really felt like a collective victory. - Dr. Bert Schepens, VIB - UGent
 

Dr. Bert Schepens, staff scientist in the team of Prof. Saelens: “Good teamwork is crucial. We can count on the expertise in the research center, colleagues from VIB Discovery Sciences and the VIB Innovation & Business team. We will continue these collaborations, also with academic experts outside VIB. The moment we observed virus neutralization in these experiments really felt like a collective victory.”

In contrast to vaccines, an antibody offers immediate protection – though of shorter duration. The advantage of this approach over vaccines is that patients don’t need to produce their own antibodies. The most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, often mount a modest response to vaccines, which means that their protection may be incomplete. Healthcare workers or people at increased risk of exposure to the virus can also benefit from an immediate protection. This type of medicine can therefore be an important tool in fighting the current pandemic.

The next steps

It remains important to note that confirmation of these results using the pathogenic coronavirus strain is needed – experiments which are currently ongoing. The VIB researchers are also preparing the preclinical test phase for a coronavirus treatment. Although these first results are highly promising, further research is necessary to confirm the full potential of this antibody-based drug directed against COVID-19.

This article was originally published by VIB on 16 March 2020.
Header image: 
Xavier Saelens (courtesy of VIB - UGent).

RELATED ARTICLES
Professors of Product Development from UAntwerp are looking at emergency production of mouth masks

At the University of Antwerp, twelve product developers are working day and night to develop oral masks. "Together with industrial partners, we tr…


Gates Foundation commissions large coronavirus study from KU Leuven

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is to provide samples of 15,000 therapeutic molecules to the Gasthuisberg hospital at the University of Leuven…


Edible antibodies to prevent and treat gut diseases

Belgian researchers have developed edible antibodies that can prevent gut bacterial infections. Normally antibodies need to be injected, but the a…

POPULAR TAGS

Sign up to our Mailing List to receive updates
of our latest News, Events & Magazines

V-Bio Ventures GSK Janssen Flanders.bio Turnstone Itera Life Science UGent XpandInnovation KU Leuven Biowin

ABOUT BIOVOX - Sharing Life Sciences Innovations

BioVox showcases interesting life sciences breakthroughs for and from Belgian innovators. Through our partnership with BioCentury we share relevant worldwide innovations and business updates while our local journalists focus on regional highlights. 

Interested to get involved? Get in touch! We are looking for content, writers and partners! Blogs are available for research institutes, companies and freelance experts.

You want to reach out to the biotechnology and life sciences community, targetting selected audiences? Discover our sponsor and publication opportunities as well as tailored packages!

Contact BioVox via news@biovox.be or by completing the contact form.