Covid-19: a bispecific antibody to fight viruses and variants

In the European clinical study that developed a monoclonal antibody effective in neutralizing the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants, Italy also participated with the Irccs Policlinico San Matteo di Pavia Foundation.

The new virus therapy and variants comes from a study published in the journal «Nature», funded by the European Commission. This was announced by the Commission itself with a comment of Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Community. “To fight the coronavirus, the world urgently needs safe and effective diagnoses, treatments and vaccines, without them we are all vulnerable. Thanks to the work of EU-funded researchers, this new discovery could prevent and treat cases of COVID-19, ultimately saving lives ”. 

Research conducted by a team of European researchers Italy also participated with the Irccs San Matteo Polyclinic Foundation of Pavia

"The antibody was developed as part of the Atac research project (Antibody Therapy Against Coronavirus), funded by the European Research Council (ERC) - he said Fausto Baldantihead of the molecular virology laboratory of the Irccs Polyclinic San Matteo Foundation - In addition to the Policlinico San Matteo di Pavia, the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, thereInstitute of Research in Biomedicine (Irb) of Bellinzona, L'University of Braunschweig and the Joint Research Center (Jcr) of the European Commission. The Rockefeller University from New York". 

The peculiarity of this monoclonal antibody consists in the simultaneous recognition of two different antigens of the virus, hence the name of "bi-specific antibody" 


The researchers merged two natural antibodies into a single man-made molecule and preclinical tests showed that it protects against Sars-CoV-2 variants, including the English one. Unlike antibodies that recognize a single antigen, the double bond of bispecific antibodies significantly reduces the selection of resistant variants. The bispecific antibody has high efficacy and characteristics that make it an excellent candidate for clinical trials, with good potential for use in both disease prevention and patient care.


The team of European researchers worked on the development of an immunotherapy against Covid 19 through three different approaches. “The first approach consisted of "Hyperimmune plasma immunotherapy", developed mainly in Pavia - explained Baldanti - The second approach, "Gamma-globulin immunotherapy", was followed by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. The approach "Immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies" developed by the Technische Universität Braunschweig, and by the Irb of Bellinzona, it has been successful in generating highly reactive human monoclonal antibodies. The biological characteristics and effectiveness of the monoclonal antibodies thus produced were defined by our research group at San Matteo ".


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