During the covid pandemic, a lot of people started relying on treatments that are known as monoclonal antibodies. The lab-made therapies are rapidly losing their healing power. This led to the following effect – they have been forcing researchers around the world to devise new antibodies that are both more potent and more resistant to new variants.
Some monoclonal antibodies have been rendered largely ineffective as the virus has mutated. Others are expected to become ineffective if a wave of new omicron subvariants comes to dominate the pandemic landscape during this winter.
The Washington Post notes that, for instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently warned that the widely used therapies Bebtelovimab and Evusheld may no longer work against some versions of the coronavirus.
People with weakened immune systems are a terrible problem
The development is especially worrisome for people with weakened immune systems. Vaccines have become less effective in patients, and a lot of them have turned to antibody treatments.
“I would say it’s a big problem,” said Michael Barnett, associate professor of health policy and management at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
It’s been just revealed that scientists are exploring new ways to tackle the problem — including antibodies that seek out fresh targets among the vulnerable parts of the virus.
“I would hope that some of these will be in clinical trials soon, and then it won’t take long” to determine whether they work, said William Haseltine, a former Harvard Medical School professor who founded the university’s cancer and HIV/AIDS research departments.
One new antibody cocktail developed by the Sherbrooke, Quebec, biotechnology company Immune Biosolutions is in clinical trials in South Africa and Brazil. Participants receive the treatment as a mist that is sprayed into their mouths for about three minutes while they breathe normally.
“We saw a sharp decline in viral loads” during the Phase 1 safety testing, said Bruno Maranda, the company’s chief medical officer.
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