SINGAPORE | 26th March 2020
Proteona Pte. Ltd. and partners announced the launch of an international alliance to develop broadly neutralizing antibodies against coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic. The antibodies will provide protection to immunocompromised individuals who have an elevated risk of infection and mortality.
The alliance is led by Proteona and joined by prestigious partners from university hospitals treating COVID-19 patients and leading companies, including the University Clinic, Heidelberg, Tübingen University Hospital, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute, NUS Enterprise, and 10x Genomics.
"We are in a truly historical moment, and everything we do now can make a difference," said Dr. Andreas Schmidt, CEO of Proteona. "At Proteona, we decided to put our resources together to develop long-term solutions for one of the most vulnerable groups, immunocompromised individuals. We work closely with clinicians treating blood cancer patients, and we believe that we can do our part to help them in this critical time. These individuals are especially at risk due to weakened defense systems and existing co-morbidities. There are currently no drugs available for treating coronaviruses. While vaccines are being developed, immuno-compromised individuals, such as those with cancer, are not candidates to receive a vaccine as their immune systems are not capable of forming the necessary protective response. Therefore, alternative treatment such as neutralizing antibodies is badly needed. With three major coronavirus outbreaks in the last 17 years, we have chosen to aim for developing a broadly neutralizing antibody that will hopefully help beyond the current pandemic."
The alliance will make use of Proteona's expertise in single cell immune profiling to identify broadly neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses.
"The advantage of performing single cell screening is that we can be comprehensive and accurate at the same time," commented Schmidt. "We obtain a complete overview of the B cell populations from many different individuals so that we do not miss out any potential candidates. Then, we can look into any B cell clone and test its efficacy and specificity. In this way, we aim to come up with a treatment solution that targets a broad spectrum of coronavirus and is both safe and effective."
"For immunocompromised individuals, such as those with Multiple Myeloma, vaccination can be a challenge. Strategies for additional protections of these patients is very important," said Hartmut Goldschmidt, Professor of Medicine and Head of the Multiple Myeloma Program at Heidelberg University Hospital. Professor Stefan Eichmüller from the DKFZ agreed adding, "Understanding the COVID-19 immune response in immunocompromised individuals will be important to efficiently help patients to battle this infection."
"We thank our partners who decided to support and contribute to the alliance," said Proteona CEO Schmidt. "With crucial resources available for every step from sample access, technical platform, to clinical trial expertise, we are prepared to bring the solution to people in need at top speed."
Proteona is actively seeking additional partners to join forces to combat COVID-19 and is offering the ESCAPE? single cell proteogenomics platform and bioinformatics capabilities.