Best alternative to a virus vaccine which may never arrive — antibody therapy

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  • Sun, Jun 21, 2020 - 12:06pm



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    Best alternative to a virus vaccine which may never arrive — antibody therapy

Best alternative to a virus vaccine which may never arrive — antibody therapy

For viral diseases there are already useful alternatives to vaccines. In the case of other dangerous coronavirus diseases like SARS and MERS there still is no vaccine. While hydroxychloroquine, HCQ,  may not be very effective against COVID-19, the same approach, termed small molecule therapies, can be very effective. The three drug cocktail used to treat HIV is an outstanding example. There are likely also such inexpensive drugs that can interfere with virus replication in the case of COVID-19 when given early, but finding them is largely a matter of trial and error.

Antibody therapies are probably the top choice for the best alternatives likely to be available in the absence of a vaccine. A classic approach is to treat virus patients with the blood plasma fraction of recovered virus survivors which contains some virus antibodies along with many other antibodies, but this is a relatively weak approach compared to a targeted therapy.

Monoclonal antibodies are like magic bullets, and this class of drugs is now transforming medicine because when they are available they tend to be costly but highly effective. This review by Derek Lowe is an excellent and easy to understand review of the topic, and the technology of making monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs by the companies now in the lead. There are also many useful comments following the article.
Antibodies as a therapy

Let’s have a look at what is (in my opinion) probably our best shot at a reasonably short-term targeted therapy against the COVID-19 epidemic: the possibility of using monoclonal antibodies. These can be developed more quickly than vaccines, and a lot more quickly than a new targeted small-molecule antiviral…

Antibodies can stay in the blood for weeks or months, so they could be used as a preventative as well as an antiviral therapy for the early stages of infection. The main problem is in finding the best virus “neutralizing” monoclonal antibodies and then gearing up to produce them on a large scale, which generally takes finicky bioreactors and tissue culture. As we might imagine, the Chinese are already very good at this sort of thing, which is why they now make most of our antibiotics. This link shows that strong human monoclonals targeting the COVID-19 virus are already in the pipeline, and are quite likely to become available before a vaccine.

For treating a global pandemic, it is likely to take orders of magnitude of scaling up production of antibodies, which must now be grown in living mammalian cell cultures. We have learned to grow many drugs like antibiotics in yeast, bacteria, or fungi, but they can’t handle the tonnage of monoclonal antibodies that we would need to handle a global pandemic.

There are several useful approaches that might be easily scalable and thus much cheaper than human monoclonals. One workaround is the “aglycosolated antibodies” which bacteria could handle. The other approach are “nanobodies” which are like tinier versions of antibodies but which still retain an antibody’s ability to target a particular virus or microbe.


Importantly, recent studies have now demonstrated that aglycosylated antibodies can be engineered to display novel effector functions and mechanisms of action that do not appear to be possible with their glycosylated counterparts. Moreover, the ability to manufacture aglycosylated antibodies in lower eukaryotes or in bacteria provides significant bioprocessing advantages in terms of shorter bioprocess development and running times and by completely bypassing the problems associated with the glycan heterogeneity of conventional antibodies. These advantages are poised to catapult aglycosylated antibodies to the forefront of protein therapeutics.


Single-domain camelid antibodies have been shown to be just as specific as a regular antibody and in some cases they are more robust. As well, they are easily isolated using the same phage panning procedure used for traditional antibodies, allowing them to be cultured in vitro in large concentrations. The smaller size and single domain make these antibodies easier to transform into bacterial cells for bulk production, making them ideal for research purposes.[4]


  • Mon, Jun 22, 2020 - 06:33pm



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    Best alternative to a virus vaccine which may never arrive — antibody therapy

I personally think it would be simpler to use a immune modulating or stimulating approach rather than try to use an antibody.     Something more like using nutrients or herbs that have immune enhancing properties..  and let your body do the work it should

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