Therapeutics company Sorrento has made a breakthrough in potential treatment of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to COVID-19, which it believes could be. On Friday, the company released details of its preclinical research, announcing that it has found an antibody that provides "100 percent inhibition of healthy cell infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus after four days of incubation." Results are from a preclinical study that has yet to be peer reviewed. It was an in vitro laboratory study (meaning not in an actual human being), but it's still a promising development as the company continues to work on the production of a "cocktail" antibody that could provide protection against SARS-CoV-2 even in the case of virus mutations.
Sorrento says it believes that this antibody, labeled STI-1499, has stood out among billions of candidates it has screened from its extensive human antibody library for its ability to completely block the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein 's interaction with a human cell target receptor. That means that it prevents the virus from attaching to the healthy cell of the host, which is what results in incubation and infection.
The nature of the effectiveness of the antibody means that Sorrento currently believes it will be the first antibody to be included in the cocktail it is developing, consisting of a large number of different antibodies that are effective in blocking the spike protein's attachment, in order to provide multiple protective avenues designed to remain effective even if the virus mutates One of the major outstanding questions currently being answered by researchers is how mutagenic SARS-CoV-2 actually is, as many coronaviruses, such as common cold, show a tendency to mutate pretty rapidly, making it difficult to develop long-lasting cures and treatments.
Sorrento's COVID-SHIELD is meant to address this through a potent mix of various antibodies that provide protection against various strains of the virus, but the company says it will also pursue the development of the STI-1499 antibody as a dedicated, stand-alone therapy on its own. The company is already discussing how to accelerate the development of this potential treatment with regulators and is also ramping up its production capacity with the goal of producing as many as one million doses simultaneously pursuing FDA approval for its use.
It is definitely worth warning that in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19, no treatment or vaccine is likely to be a "magic bullet," but this is still a promising development and one to watch as clinical trials and therapeutic development and regulatory process are underway.
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