Sartorius_May21_NeutAntiMakingTheir - 29

NEUTRALIZING ANTIBODIES MAKING THEIR MARK IN NEXT WAVE OF BIOLOGICS

" the cryo-EM reconstruction revealed an unusual

Scientific collaboration

conformation of the spike where two RBDs are in

during lockdown

the 'up' ACE2-binding conformation. "
The RBDs switch between two positions: in the

" The collaborative spirit has been enormous
in these times, and everybody was motivated to

" up " position the RBDs poke out, ready to bind

contribute, " said Löw. The researchers started the

ACE2; in the " down " position they are furled to hide

project as soon as they received approval from

from the human immune system. The molecular

EMBL leadership to reopen their laboratories

structures revealed that sybody 23 binds RBDs

during the COVID-19 lockdown. They managed

in both " up " and " down " positions, and blocks the

to select the candidate sybodies and perform the

areas where ACE2 would normally bind. This ability

analyses in just a few weeks.

to block RBDs regardless of their position might
explain why sybody 23 is so effective.

" Getting the results so quickly was only
possible because the methodologies we used

Finally, to test if sybody 23 can neutralize

had already been established for other research

a virus, the group of Ben Murrell at Karolinska

projects unrelated to SARS-CoV-2. Developing

Institutet used a different virus, called a lentivirus,

these tools would have taken significantly more

modified such that it carried SARS-CoV-2's spike

time and resources, " said Löw.

protein on its surface. They observed that sybody

The results of this project hold out the promise

23 successfully disabled the modified virus in

of a potential way to treat COVID-19. In future

vitro. Additional tests will be necessary to confirm

work, the scientists will perform further analyses

whether this sybody could stop SARS-CoV-2

to confirm whether sybody 23 could be an

infection in the human body.

effective COVID-19 treatment. n

GENengnews.com

| 29


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