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Fully human single-domain antibodies against SARS-CoV-2

By Yanling Wu, Cheng Li, Shuai Xia, Xiaolong Tian, Zhi Wang, Yu Kong, Chenjian Gu, Rong Zhang, Chao Tu, Youhua Xie, Lu Lu, Shibo Jiang, Tianlei Ying

Posted 31 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.30.015990 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2020.04.023)

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly, highlighting the urgent need for an efficient approach to rapidly develop therapeutics and prophylactics against SARS-CoV-2. We describe here the development of a phage-displayed single-domain antibody library by grafting naive CDRs into framework regions of an identified human germline IGHV allele. This enabled the isolation of high-affinity single-domain antibodies of fully human origin. The panning using SARS-CoV-2 RBD and S1 as antigens resulted in the identification of antibodies targeting five types of neutralizing or non-neutralizing epitopes on SARS-CoV-2 RBD. These fully human single-domain antibodies bound specifically to SARS-CoV-2 RBD with subnanomolar to low nanomolar affinities. Some of them were found to potently neutralize pseudotyped and live virus, and therefore may represent promising candidates for prophylaxis and therapy of COVID-19. This study also reports unique immunogenic profile of SARS-CoV-2 RBD compared to that of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, which may have important implications for the development of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.

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