California biopharmaceutical company Sorrento Therapeutics claims to have discovered an antibody which can prevent the SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting human cells.
The San Diego company said the antibody can provide “100% inhibition” of COVID-19.
“We want to emphasize there is a cure. There is a solution that works 100 percent,” said Sorrento’s CEO, Dr. Henry Ji. “If we have the neutralizing antibody in your body, you don’t need the social distancing. You can open up a society without fear.”
Sorrento screened and tested billions of antibodies. This allowed them to find a dozen antibodies which could prevent SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins from binding to ACE2, the receptor the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to enter human cells. Further testing discovered that the antibody STI-1499 was 100% effective in preventing the SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting human cells.
“When the antibody prevents a virus from entering a human cell, the virus cannot survive,” Dr. said Dr. Ji. “If they cannot get into the cell, they cannot replicate. So it means that if we prevent the virus from getting the cell, the virus eventually dies out. The body clears out that virus.”
Dr. Ji said that the antibody may be more effective than a vaccine.
“This is the best solution,” Dr. Ji said. “The point of making a vaccine is to generalize a neutralizing antibody. So, if you already have one, you don’t need to the body to generate one from a vaccine. You’ve already provided it. You’re cutting out the middleman.”
Sorrento said the discovery of the antibody could lead to an effective COVID-19 treatment being available months before any vaccines hit the market. Vaccines can take up to 18 months to develop, but antibody treatments can be available in much less time with a higher rate of success, according to Sorrento’s senior vice president Dr. Mark Brunswick, who said quick FDA approval would be necessary to make the treatment available as quickly as possible.
“As soon as it is infused, that patient is now immune to the disease,” he said. “For the length of time, the antibody is in that system. So, if we were approved [by the FDA] today, everyone who gets that antibody can go back to work and have no fear of catching COVID-19.”
Sorrento has partnered with Mount Sinai in New York to develop a COVID-19 antibody cocktail. STI-1499 will probably be the first antibody in the cocktail according to Sorrento officials, who said they’re also seeking to use the antibody as a standalone therapy.