Scientists find human antibodies against COVID-19

/ July 21, 2020/ News

[article written by Peggy Darius Leipzig University]

The COVID 19 pandemic poses a major threat to global health and currently there is little medical response. In addition, there is a lack of a profound understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the body’s immune system. An international team has now succeeded in scientifically describing highly active neutralizing human antibodies against the corona virus SARS-CoV-2. Humboldt Professor Jens Meiler of the University of Leipzig contributed to the study, which has now been published in the scientific journal “Nature”.

Highly active neutralizing human antibodies against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 can be used for the development of vaccines and can also be used as therapy in the case of an acute infection. An international research group led by James E. Crowe of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, USA, analyzed human antibodies derived from infected patients in Wuhan, China. These antibodies have a strong neutralizing effect on the corona virus and thus prevent re-infection. In various animal models, the scientists were able to show that the antibodies can protect against weight loss and inflammation of the lungs and reduce the viral load. The present study results provide a structure-based framework for rational vaccine design and the selection of immunotherapeutic agents.

“I have helped my colleagues to better understand the structure and function of these human antibodies,” said the Director of the Institute for Drug Development at the Faculty of Medicine, Humboldt Professor Jens Meiler, describing the Leipzig contribution to the study. The bioinformatician and chemist is one of the world’s most renowned researchers in the field of computer-assisted drug development. He uses digital simulations and artificial intelligence to model proteins that form attractive starting points for various drugs.