Novel antibody engineered product to treat COVID-19 cleared for clinical trials

VINCOV-19 is obtained after immunisation of horses with inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus in combination with adjuvants

‘VINCOV-19’ — a novel therapeutic antibody engineered product, which is a collaborative effort of the University of Hyderabad (UoH), CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) and Vins Bioproducts Ltd, has got approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) for clinical trials to test against the COVID-19 pandemic, on Tuesday.

VINCOV-19 is an antibody product obtained after immunisation of horses with inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus in combination with adjuvants. The development of antibodies triggered in the horses are purified and further processed to generate highly pure antibody fragment-based product — Fab2.

Results have indicated that this product has a high neutralising capacity against SARS-CoV-2. Since neutralising antibodies could block the internalisation of SARS-CoV-2 to lung cells, it is postulated that their passive administration should render maximum clinical benefits if they are applied at the early stages of the disease, said an official spokesman of UoH. After signing the collaborative MoU between UoH, CCMB, and VINS on May 15 last year, the research groups at these organisations worked extensively towards standardisation of the viral propagation methodologies, bulk viral purification, immunological characterisation, and pre-clinal studies, which have shown promising results.

Pre-clinical trials for VINCOV-19, which began in October last year, were highly successful, showing potent virus neutralising capability. The next phase of clinical trials will involve over 300 COVID-19 patients spread across the country for examining the safety and efficacy of the antibodies. The clinical plan is to administer VINCOV-19 to patients with moderate to severe disease according to the published COVID-19 treatment guidelines as soon as they are detected positive. This reinforces the idea that the therapeutic strategy, with equine antibodies, will play a significant role in managing COVID-19 and the ensuing pandemic, said the press release.

CEO of Vins Bioproducts Siddharth Daga is confident of bringing out the product to the market soon after the clinical trials. The UoH team is led by an associate professor at the department of animal biology, school of life sciences, Dr. Nooruddin Khan, specialising in the area of immunology, infection biology and vaccinology.

CSIR-CCMB principal scientist Dr. Krishnan Harinivas specialising in molecular virology and Vins Bioproducts’ Dr. Krishna Mohan specialising in bioprocessing and product development are the key people involved in the work. UoH Vice-Chancellor Prof. Appa Rao Podile congratulated the team members and was happy that the industry-academia collaboration effort has yielded fruitful results in less than a year. He also thanked CSIR-CCMB director Rakesh Mishra and Vins CEO Mr. Daga for joining hands with UoH in developing ‘VINCOV-19’ .

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