Bharat Biotech to lead monoclonal antibodies project for Covid-19 therapy

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Published: May 9, 2020 7:54 AM

This project brings together National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune; Indian Institute of Technology, Indore, and Gurgaon-based PredOmix Technologies in a collaborative mode for a public health emergency.

Bharat biotech, vaccine, coronavirus vaccine, New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR, National Centre for Cell Science, COVID-19Monoclonal antibody therapy is a highly effective and safe method.

Vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech said it would lead a project to develop human monoclonal antibodies as therapy for Covid-19 infections. The project is sanctioned by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under its flagship programme, New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative.

This project brings together National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune; Indian Institute of Technology, Indore, and Gurgaon-based PredOmix Technologies in a collaborative mode for a public health emergency.

“We are fast-tracking the development process to make the antibodies available within the next six months and improve the treatment efficacy,” said Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director, Bharat Biotech.

The project aims at an alternate therapeutic regimen by generating highly effective and specific human monoclonal antibodies that are capable of neutralising the SARS-CoV2 virus. Such virus-neutralising antibodies can block the spread of infection by binding to the virus and rendering it ineffective. Monoclonal antibody therapy is a highly effective and safe method.

Talking about the novel antibodies approach to deal with Covid-19 pandemic, Ella said, “While both Israel and The Netherlands have recently announced the development of virus-neutralising antibodies, our approach is to develop a powerful cocktail of neutralising antibodies that can also simultaneously block mutational variants of the virus.’’

“Although efforts are underway for the development of drugs and vaccines for controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, these are slow and expensive processes with uncertainties. Therefore, an alternate therapeutic regimen for early deployment is critical.”

He said the purpose of vaccination was to protect the healthy against future infections and it alone might not provide the complete solution. “We feel the monoclonal antibody therapy will provide a viable option.”

“The question is of how to treat those individuals who are already infected and we do not know how effective an anti-SARS-CoV2 vaccine will be in the elderly people and those with co-morbidities. Given the large number of Indians suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases, this becomes an important issue,” Ella explained. The company has delivered more than five billion doses of viral vaccines including anti-rabies vaccines.

Incidentally, plasma therapy has shown some promise. However, inherent problems associated with this approach severely limit its wider use. Large scale deployment of this therapy is limited by the availability of the volume of plasma. Additionally, convalescent plasma also contains other biologically active molecules such as clotting factors and inflammatory cytokines, which may be contraindicative for Covid-19 management. Finally, the need to carefully screen convalescent plasma for the presence of other infections that could be unwittingly transferred to the recipient poses yet another hurdle.

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