Immunome Isolates Antibodies Capable of Neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 Variants
In its quest to contribute to the fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Immunome has isolated potent antibodies that may be able to neutralize several variants of the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), including the South African variant B.1.351.
Shares in the company shot up 212.6% following the news it had isolated the potentially variant-neutralizing antibodies.
Immunome is a Pennsylvania-based biopharmaceutical company that has developed a human memory B cell platform focused on the discovery and development of first-in-class antibody treatments. In September 2020, the company formed a COVID-19 advisory board to guide the development and testing of biosynthetic convalescent plasma as a potential COVID-19 therapy and disease preventative.
“This new advisory board will provide fundamental guidance on our efforts to develop a biosynthetic convalescent plasma product candidate to treat COVID-19 patients,” said Purnanand Sarma, Ph.D., Immunome’s president and CEO, in a statement.
“Antibody-rich plasma from COVID-19 survivors is emerging as a successful treatment for newly infected patients,” added Dr. Jeffrey Henderson, M.D., Ph.D., infectious diseases specialist and associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Henderson, who also serves as a member of the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, said, “These results suggest that Immunome’s approach of reproducing the multi-faceted antibody response of COVID-19 survivors could be particularly effective in treating patients, or possibly as a preventive. The consistency and scale of lab-produced antibodies also may help more rapidly facilitate the supply of antibodies available for clinical use.”
The new COVID-19 antibody initiative is part of a larger ongoing program to develop antibody cocktails targeting spike and non-spike proteins as a treatment or prophylaxis against COVID-19. Abzena, a partner research organization, selected Immunome early this month to develop and manufacturer an investigational therapeutic COVID-19 antibody cocktail IMM-BCP-01.
During the IMM-BCP-01development process, Immunome said the company has identified antibodies binding to non-overlapping regions of the virus’ spike protein, including regions containing critical mutational variants. Research from the company has shown that some of the developed antibodies specifically neutralize pseudoviruses expressing the spike protein on the B.1.351.
“Our findings underscore the power of Immunome’s discovery engine to quickly identify antibodies that are broadly effective against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants,” Sarma said. “Of note, Immunome’s discovery engine has identified antibodies that bind to conserved epitopes of SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 spike, as well as to other non-spike targets. We believe that our comprehensive strategy could combat the negative impact of escape mutants. We are encouraged by these results and plan to continue development efforts on these antibodies.”
“Interrogating the overall immune responses in recovered COVID-19 patients allows Immunome to identify not only broadly neutralizing anti-spike antibodies but also promising non-spike antibodies that have the potential to enhance viral clearance,” Henderson said. “Broadly targeting multiple viral proteins in this way may provide alternative approaches to combat future SARS-CoV-2 variants.”
Immunome was awarded a $13.3 million technology award in July of last year from the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND). The award, which was given in collaboration with the Defense Health Agency, was provided to support the company’s COVID-19 program, including the isolation of the antibodies.