By Kim Polacek, APR, CPRC - May 14, 2020
It may seem like cancer and COVID-19 don’t have a lot in common, but a cancer therapy could be an effective weapon against the respiratory virus.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is used to boost immune response in cancer patients, and now has the eyes of scientists looking to treat COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-produced proteins that are engineered to mimic naturally occurring versions the body builds to fight off bacteria and viruses. They target one site on a virus and are highly potent.
“Antibodies are an important part of the adaptive immune system and can have strong anti-viral properties,” said Dr. Marco Davila, medical director of Cell Therapies and associate member of the Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Immunotherapy Department at Moffitt Cancer Center. “The use of antibodies has the potential for preventing and/or treating COVID-19. It has been impressive at how quickly the medical research community has gone from patient plasma to a therapeutic product.”
In a new study published in Nature Communications, researchers in Germany and the Netherlands outlined how they used genetically modified mice to produce different antibodies in hopes of finding one like COVID-19. After screening the antibodies, they discovered one was similar and targeted the spikes on the outside of the coronavirus that allow it to attach to and enter human cells. The scientists say this antibody not only neutralizes COVID-19, but can also work to fight SARS. They have reformatted the antibody into a human version and will begin clinical trials.
At least two other pharmaceutical companies are now working on possible antibody treatments for COVID-19.