Novochizol SA, a Swiss biotech company with a unique chitosan-based drug formulation nanotechnology, today announced the launch of two research initiatives focusing on COVID-19 prevention and therapeutics in collaboration with researchers at the Center for Antibody Therapeutics (CAT), Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pittsburgh.
The first initiative consists of developing a Novochizol aerosol formulation of ab10, a high potency bivalent human VH domain against SARS-CoV-2 spike, identified in a phage-displayed human antibody VH domain library, similar to the one first reported in a breakthrough publication in the journal Cell in October 2020. The objective of this first initiative is to demonstrate to what extent ab10, which has potent neutralization activity against various SARS-CoV-2 variants, can inhibit viral infection and replication when delivered as an intranasal aerosol. If successful, such a formulation may lead to a first-in-class solution for early treatment and prevention of COVID-19 infections.
The second initiative consists of developing a Novochizol-based formulation of a SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor binding domain (RBD). Previously CAT researchers demonstrated that RBD fused to Fc can elicit a strong neutralizing antibody response in mice. Now the CAT researchers have produced RBD with the Beta variant triple mutations in the receptor-engaging ridge. The objective of this second initiative is to demonstrate to what extent a systemic immune response against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern may be generated via an intranasal administration and whether a bona fide mucosal immune response is elicited. If successful, this initiative may pave the way toward the development of a rapid vaccine formulation platform where essentially any combination of viral antigens may be attached to Novochizol nanoparticles for intranasal, oral or rectal administration.
“Since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our center has rapidly identified highly potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies by using antibody phage displayed technology coupled with antibody engineering strategies. With the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, we are dedicated to broadening our antibodies’ neutralization capacities by antibody paratope engineering and the generation of bispecific antibodies. ab10 is a broadly neutralizing antibody VH domain that showed reactivity to various SARS-CoV-2 isolates”, commented Wei Li, Center for Antibody Therapeutics.
Yvan (Vanya) Loroch, CEO Novochizol SA, says: “As a newly founded start-up company, we feel privileged and humbled to collaborate with an outstanding research group at one of the leading medical research institutions in the USA and worldwide. More importantly however, is the overall objective of the two research projects. Contributing to a preventive strategy against COVID-19 - via a self-administered spray or a sterilizing vaccine would be a once-in-a -lifetime achievement!”