San Diego’s Sorrento Therapeutics has entered into an exclusive license agreement with China-based antibody biopharma, Mabpharm, for the clinical development and commercialisation of the ACE-MAB fusion protein for the potential treatment of COVID-19.
Mabpharm has generated a fusion protein (CMAB020) that binds to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Designed as a bi-specific fusion protein, ACE-MAB has two functional arms. One arm (Ab) is a fully human antibody that targets the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 with high affinity. The other arm (TR) is a truncated ACE2 protein that binds to a different epitope of the spike protein.
The ACE-MAB fusion protein could also block the receptor binding domain (RBD) with CD147 to mitigate lung inflammation and cytokine storm. The dual-arm design could be a unique advancement, potentially providing binding to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is sufficient to prevent the virus from invading normal human cells.
ACE-MAB retains the ACE2 enzymatic function, which could provide benefits such as reduced vasoconstriction and increased blood flow to infected lung tissue. The ACE2 arm competes with RBD binding to respiratory epithelial or other cells.
It should preserve the ACE2 enzymatic activity, which is important in maintaining normal blood pressure and healthy blood flow into patients with infected lung tissue, which would include patients with advanced COVID-19 disease.
Under the agreement, Sorrento will focus on the development and commercialization of ACE-MAB in the North American and European markets, while Mabpharm retains rights in the rest of the world, including the China and Japan markets.