REDCAR, U.K.—Absolute Antibody Ltd., has announced a partnership with the University of Zurich to offer synthetic nanobodies against the receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Under the partnership, the original nanobodies and newly engineered formats are now available to the global research community for use as serological controls and in COVID-19 therapeutic development. The synthetic nanobodies reportedly possess particular promise for the development of inhalable drugs, which could offer a convenient treatment option for COVID-19.
“The global research community has been working at unprecedented speeds to fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Markus Seeger, professor at the Institute of Medical Microbiology of the University of Zurich. “By partnering with Absolute Antibody, we have extended the reach and applications of our new synthetic nanobodies, furthering their potential in the race to develop urgently required therapeutics.”
Nanobodies are small antibody fragments that can reach previously inaccessible parts of the body due to their compact size. Researchers are exploring their potential for inhalable COVID-19 drugs, which would be easier to administer and reach patients’ lungs faster than other treatment formulations.
The laboratory of Markus Seeger at the University of Zurich developed a rapid in vitro selection platform to generate synthetic nanobodies, known as sybodies, against the receptor binding domain of SARS-CoV-2. Within a two-week timeframe, the lab had identified more than 60 unique anti-RBD sybodies from combinatorial display libraries.
Research was further able to show that six of the sybodies bound SARS-CoV-2 spike protein with very high affinity, while five of those also inhibited ACE2 — the host cell receptor to which SARS-CoV-2 binds to initiate the COVID-19 infection. Two of the sybodies can simultaneously bind the RBD, which might enable the construction of a polyvalent antiviral drug. The SARS-CoV-2 sybodies are valuable tools for coronavirus research, diagnostics and therapeutic development, and the panel is now available to researchers worldwide via Absolute Antibody’s online catalog.
Absolute Antibody recombinantly produces the SARS-CoV-2 synthetic nanobodies for ensured batch-to-batch reproducibility, high purity and low endotoxin levels. The company has used antibody engineering to fuse the nanobodies to Fc domains in different species, isotypes and subtypes. The anti-RBD binders are now available with human IgG1, IgG3, IgM and IgA domains for use as serological controls. These recombinant engineered antibodies extend the applications of the sybodies by varying effector function and permitting increased half-life in in vivo studies.
“We are excited to partner with the Seeger lab to make their novel synthetic nanobodies more widely available to the research community. Combined with Absolute Antibody’s unique antibody engineering approach, we can harness even more potential from the nanobodies and help scientists worldwide fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Dr. Michael Fiebig, vice president of Product Portfolio & Innovation at Absolute Antibody.