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Evec has succeeded in developing anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies

September 13, 2021

Evec, a member of KOBE Biomedical Innovation Cluster (KBIC), has succeeded in developing monoclonal antibodies that can neutralize not only wild-type strain of COVID-19, but also its variants currently prevailing (e.g., Alpha and Delta variant). The variants are rapidly being replaced by wild-type due to their high infectivity. Under conditions where the end of pandemic by the COVID-19 is nowhere in sight, the development of therapeutic drugs for infections is also highly desirable of stably supplying drugs. We are continuing research and development in order to fulfill the expectations of the society through the provision of antibodies.

Background of the development of novel coronavirus antibody

Evec has excellent techniques to create fully human antibodies that can neutralize viruses causing infective diseases. Since April 2020, in collaboration with multiple hospitals and research institutions in Japan, we have developed a monoclonal antibodies for the virus (COVID-19) that causes SARS-CoV-2. The development process is shown below: We started antibody development with the collaborating research institutions in mid-October using blood provided by patients infected with COVID-19 in last March and recovered. The antibodies bearing substantial neutralizing activity against the wild-type strain was obtained 2 months later of the beginning (in early December, patent pending).
We are making this announcement because we found that low doses of these antibodies were sufficient to neutralize both the Alpha variant (UK variant, old nomenclature, same as below), that has spread following the wild-type strain, and the Delta variant (India variant), that is currently raging. In addition, our research demonstrated that some people produce antibodies that neutralize various variants approximately 4 months after infection with COVID-19. Of note, we can create a medicine-level antibody in less than 2 months using the blood of people who recovered from COVID-19.

Characteristics of the antibody

Of antibodies produced in the human body, more than 95% that could harm the body are eliminated in bone marrow and other organs, so our antibody created from peripheral blood is considered to be safe. An antibody effective against the cytomegalovirus (CMV) that was created using the same technique is undergoing a phase II clinical trial after having been licensed to Nobelpharma Co., Ltd. This antibody has already been administered to human and is demonstrated to be highly safe. An antibody cocktail “Ronapreve,” which has already been approved in Japan, is expected to prevent increased severity in patients with severe COVID-19, etc.

Future research

These antibodies were created using the blood of patients infected with the wild-type COVID-19 strain. Nevertheless, they are highly effective to neutralize the Alpha and Delta variants as well. We will continue to analyze the potential applicability to the further emerging variants.

In order to address variants that cannot be neutralized by the antibodies we have developed so far, we have already received the blood of patients infected with COVID-19 variants from collaborating research institutions. The production of next antibodies will be achieved promptly through the established system in this research. If necessary, we will continue to perform joint research to be able to work on antibody cocktails.

As mentioned above, we have established a collaborative research system with domestic medical institutions and medical research institutions, that allows us to harvest blood from patients who recovered from various kind of COVID-19 strains, and to perform efficient screening of the highly active and safe antibodies. The system may allow us rapid development of pharmaceutical antibodies for the newly emerging coronavirus as well as the next viruses that will cause pandemic after COVID-19.

About Evec, Inc.

Evec is a biotech headquartered in Sapporo and founded in January 2003, aiming at the practical realization of the technology and knowledge of the EB virus held by Dr. Kenzo Takada, professor emeritus of Hokkaido University. We can develop human monoclonal antibodies directly from human peripheral blood applied for a wide range of therapeutic areas. We have innovated by being the first Japanese biotech to license our antibody to a large foreign pharmaceutical company in 2008.