SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Affimer Reagents with Therapeutic Potential
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Avacta Group plc, the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, has announced that several of the Affimer reagents recently generated for development of a point-of-care COVID-19 antigen saliva test have now also been shown to block the interaction between the virus’ spike protein and ACE2, a receptor on human cells that is key to the virus infection pathway.
Avacta has already successfully generated a large number of Affimer reagents that bind to the SARS-COV-2 virus’ spike protein as part of its partnership with Cytiva (formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences and now part of Danaher Corp). As previously announced, Avacta and Cytiva are working together to develop a rapid point-of-care COVID-19 antigen saliva test to be mass produced for large-scale population screening and for self-testing by consumers.
Further work at Avacta has now shown that several of these Affimer reagents block the interaction between the virus’ spike protein and a receptor found on human cells, called ACE2, to which the virus spike protein binds in order to infect cells. Affimer reagents that block the binding of the virus spike protein to ACE2 therefore have the potential to prevent infection and act as “neutralizing” therapies.
Neutralizing 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.
Large pharmaceutical companies, such as AstraZeneca and GSK, are now starting programs to develop neutralizing antibodies in an attempt to block the SARS-COV-2 spike protein’s interaction with ACE2. Avacta has now demonstrated that several Affimer reagents also perform this blocking function and the Company is now seeking a partner that has the resources available to develop a neutralizing Affimer therapy as quickly as possible.