Hyderabad: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), under its flagship New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative programme (NMITLI), has sanctioned a project to develop human monoclonal antibodies as therapy for COVID-19 infection.
The project, which is being led by leading vaccines and bio-therapeutics manufacturer Bharat Biotech, aims at alternate therapeutic regimen by generating highly effective and specific human monoclonal antibodies that are capable of neutralizing the SARS-CoV2 virus.
It brings together academia – National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune and Indian Institute of Technology, Indore and industry – PredOmix Technologies, Gurgaon and Bharat Biotech in a collaborative mode for a public health emergency.
“The purpose of vaccination is to protect the healthy against future infections and it alone may not provide the complete solution. We feel the monoclonal antibody therapy will provide a viable option,” Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Dr Krishna Ella said.
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.
“The question is of how to treat those individuals who are already infected? Plus, we do not yet 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,” Dr Ella said.
Talking about the novel antibodies approach to deal with COVID19 Pandemic, Dr Ella said that while both Israel and the Netherlands have recently announced the development of virus-neutralizing antibodies, our approach is to develop a powerful cocktail of neutralizing antibodies that can also simultaneously block mutational variants of the virus.
We are fast-tracking the development process, to make the antibodies available within the next six months and thus improve the treatment efficacy, he added.
Such virus-neutralizing 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.
According to experts, plasma therapy has shown some promise in treating for the virus, however, inherent problems associated with this approach severely limit its wider use and large scale deployment of this therapy is limited by the availability of the volume of plasma.