AbbVie, Harbour BioMed, Utrecht University and the Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) revealed today they have entered into a partnership to develop a monoclonal antibody therapy to prevent and treat COVID-19. The partnership will aim to advance the fully human, neutralizing antibody 47D11 discovered by Utrecht University, EMC and Harbour BioMed and recently reported in Pharma Industry Review. This novel antibody targets the conserved domain of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 disease.
Under the agreement, the American biopharmaceutical giant AbbVie will support Harbour BioMed, EMC and Utrecht University through the preclinical activities, whilst preparing for later stage preclinical and clinical development work at the same time. AbbVie will have the option to exclusively license the antibody from the three parties for therapeutic clinical development and commercialisation on a global scale.
Tom Hudson, M.D., Senior Vice President, Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer at AbbVie said:
“Treatment and prevention of COVID-19 remains a critical global need. The antibody discovered by UU, EMC and Harbour BioMed is extremely promising based on the mechanism by which it targets the virus and on its developability as a fully human protein. We look forward to working with this outstanding team to advance this antibody towards clinical trials.”
Dr. Jingsong Wang, Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Harbour BioMed commented:
“AbbVie is a global leader in developing innovative antiviral therapies. This collaboration will greatly accelerate our efforts to bring this antibody forward into clinical trials as quickly as possible and contribute a solution to this pandemic.”
Berend-Jan Bosch, PhD, Associate Professor, Research leader at Utrecht University added:
“The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted the importance of understanding coronavirus biology. The collaboration with AbbVie provides an excellent opportunity to translate our research into a clinical candidate with great potential for advancing the fight against this disease.”
Frank Grosveld, PhD, Academy Professor of Cell Biology, EMC, Rotterdam and Founding Chief Scientific Officer at Harbour BioMed, commented:
“The collaboration is an endorsement of our approach to fully human antibody discovery and development. Through this collaboration, we are well positioned to move rapidly towards clinical trials.”
The breakthrough antibody discovery, published online on May 4 in Nature Communications, targets a conserved region of the SARS-CoV virus’ spike protein. In cell culture studies the antibody blocked infection by the SARS-CoV-2 and a second coronavirus SARS-CoV. The monoclonal antibody is fully human, which is designed to facilitate its development and minimize any immune-related side effects from the drug.