Scientists at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and EPFL have discovered a highly potent monoclonal antibody that targets the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and is effective at neutralizing all variants of concern identified to date, including the delta variant. Their findings, published in the prestigious journal Cell Reports, pave the way to promising new therapeutic applications for protecting at-risk individuals, such as immunocompromised patients. The new antibody could also be used as a combination therapy in SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals.
In addition to its antiviral properties, the new antibody is designed to have a lasting effect in humans. A typical unaltered antibody provides protection for up to 3–4 weeks. But this new one can protect patients for 4–6 months. That makes it an interesting preventive-treatment option for unvaccinated at-risk individuals or for vaccinated individuals who are unable to produce an immune response. Immunocompromised patients, organ transplant recipients and those suffering from certain kinds of cancer could be protected against SARS-CoV-2 by receiving antibody injections two or three times a year.
The discovery of this new antibody marks a major step forward in the fight against COVID-19. It opens the door to improved treatments for severe forms of the disease and to enhanced prophylactic measures, especially for patients with weakened immune systems. However, this antibody is not intended to replace COVID-19 vaccines, which remain the most effective way to prevent infection.