Monoclonal Antibodies for Covid-19

Recently, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune announced an agreement with Merck, a science and technology company, to develop SARS-CoV-2 neutralising monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), which will be used to address the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • IAVI is a non-profit scientific research organisation dedicated to addressing urgent global health challenges. It is headquartered in New York, USA.
  • SII is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

Key Points

  • Monoclonal Antibodies:
    • Antibodies are proteins produced naturally by the immune system that target a specific foreign object (antigen). They are called monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs) when they are produced by clones derived from a single parent cell.
    • They are man-made proteins that act like a human antibody in the immune system. They are made by cloning a unique white blood cell.
    • mAbs have monovalent affinity, it binds only to the same epitope i.e. the part of an antigen that is recognized by the antibody.
    • They are designed to perform many roles, like they can be used to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive substances directly to affected cells.
    • mAbs are used to treat many diseases, including some types of cancer.
  • mAbs and Covid-19:

    • Neutralising monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against SARS-CoV-2 were co-invented by IAVI and Scripps Research.
    • They are widely considered to be promising candidates for Covid-19 treatment and prevention.
    • Encouraging results for Covid-19 antibody treatment have emerged from preclinical research and from initial clinical trials.
    • mAbs also have the potential to play an important complementary role to Covid-19 vaccines.
      • It can be used both for treatment and potentially for prevention, especially for those individuals who, due to age or medical conditions, may not benefit from vaccination.