Infectivity assays show Affimer reagents prevent infection of human cells by SARS-COV-2 model virus

Avacta Group plc, the developer of Affimer biotherapeutics and reagents, has revealed that collaborative work with the Centre for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow has shown that Affimer reagents which bind to the SARS-COV-2 virus spike protein prevent infection of human cells by a SARS-COV-2 model virus and therefore provide a potential therapy for COVID-19 infection.

Recently, Avacta reported that several of the Affimer reagents that had been generated to develop COVID-19 antigen tests inhibited the interaction between the Coronavirus’ spike protein and a receptor found on human cells, called ACE2, which the virus spike protein binds to as the first step in infecting cells.

Avacta has now successfully completed the initial phase of a collaboration with Professor David Bhella at the University of Glasgow showing that these “neutralising” Affimer reagents prevent a SARS-COV-2 model virus from entering human cells and therefore provide a potential therapy for COVID-19.

Affimer reagents have key benefits compared with antibodies as virus neutralising therapies: Their small size and high solubility means that a much higher concentration of Affimer molecules can be used in the drug formulation to more effectively block the spike proteins on each virus particle and better protect the patient; bispecific and trispecific Affimer neutralising therapies that bind to more than one part of the spike protein could ensure the effectiveness of the neutralising therapy even if the virus’ spike protein mutates.

Work is continuing with Professor Bhella to further study the way in which the Affimer reagents prevent infection and Avacta is using this growing body of data actively to secure a large pharmaceutical partner to develop these potential therapeutic candidates rapidly.

Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta Group, said: “I am delighted that our collaborators at the University of Glasgow have confirmed that these Affimer reagents not only block the spike-ACE2 binding but efficiently prevent a SARS-COV-2 model virus from entering human cells. This is critical information that will help to establish a license deal with a large pharmaceutical partner that has the resources to carry out an accelerated clinical development programme.

“Neutralising therapies could be given to those exposed to the virus, such as health and social-care workers, to prevent infection, as well as to patients already infected by the virus, to help treat and prevent disease progression. There is ongoing significant investment by large pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca, GSK, Boehringer Ingelheim and others to develop neutralising therapies for COVID-19.

“We continue to make very good progress across all of our COVID-19 related programmes, as well as our other diagnostic and therapeutic activities, and I look forward to providing further updates in the very near future.”

Professor David Bhella, Professor of Structural Virology (Centre for Virus Research) at the University of Glasgow, said: “There is significant interest around the world in neutralising therapies for COVID-19 given the uncertainties around the timeline for developing an effective vaccine and deploying it.

“The infectivity assays that we have carried out with the Affimer reagents have gone very well and they show that there are a number of them that are potent inhibitors of a SARS-COV-2 model virus entry into human cells.

“Given the excellent performance of these novel reagents in the assays, and the other benefits of Affimer reagents, there should be considerable interest from potential partners in developing them as a therapy for COVID-19.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our news site - please take a moment to read this important message:

As you know, our aim is to bring you, the reader, an editorially led news site but journalism costs money and we rely on advertising and digital revenues to help to support them.

With the Covid-19 lockdown having a major impact on our industry as a whole, the advertising revenues we normally receive, which helps us cover the cost of our journalists and this website, have been drastically affected.

As such we need your help. If you can support our news sites with a small donation of even £1, your generosity will help us weather the storm and continue in our quest to deliver quality journalism.

In the meantime may I wish you the very best.

- Advertisement -

Avalon GloboCare & BOKU to advance intranasal & oral COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Avalon GloboCare, a New Jersey-based clinical-stage global developer of cell-based technologies and therapeutics, has partnered with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences...

Sanofi & Translate Bio expand collaboration to develop mRNA vaccines

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines global business unit of Sanofi, and Translate Bio, a clinical-stage messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics company, are expanding their existing 2018...

Sarepta & Codiak to research, develop exosome-based therapeutics

Precision medicine specialist, Sarepta Therapeutics, and Codiak BioSciences, a company at the forefront of advancing engineered exosomes as a new class of biologic medicines,...

Gilead acquires equity interest in pioneering immunotherapy company

Gilead Sciences is acquiring a 49.9% equity interest in Pionyr Immunotherapeutics, a privately held San Fran company developing first-in-class cancer immunotherapies. The acquisition – for...

New class of precision medicine strips cancer of its DNA defences

A new precision medicine targeting cancer’s ability to repair its DNA has shown promising results in the first clinical trial of the drug class. The...

Related news

Pharma industry invests £381m in UK R&D activities

The pharmaceutical industry has invested £381.2 million on R&D activities in the UK during 2019, up from £377.3 million in 2018, according to new...

Avalon GloboCare & BOKU to advance intranasal & oral COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Avalon GloboCare, a New Jersey-based clinical-stage global developer of cell-based technologies and therapeutics, has partnered with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences...

Sanofi & Translate Bio expand collaboration to develop mRNA vaccines

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines global business unit of Sanofi, and Translate Bio, a clinical-stage messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics company, are expanding their existing 2018...

Sarepta & Codiak to research, develop exosome-based therapeutics

Precision medicine specialist, Sarepta Therapeutics, and Codiak BioSciences, a company at the forefront of advancing engineered exosomes as a new class of biologic medicines,...