Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (Nasdaq: VIR), a clinical-stage immunology company focused on immune approaches to treating and preventing serious infectious diseases, is issuing the following in response to inquiries from multiple academic, government, investor, and media stakeholders.
Vir is working to rapidly determine whether its previously identified anti-coronavirus monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) bind and neutralize 2019-nCoV, also referred to as “Wuhan coronavirus”.
“We have a library of multiple fully-human mAbs that bind and neutralize coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS,” said Herbert “Skip” Virgin, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Vir. “These mAbs were discovered using our antibody platform that identifies mAbs from survivors of an infection. Some of these mAbs are able to neutralize zoonotic coronaviruses, and we believe may have the potential to treat and prevent Wuhan coronavirus. We are also exploring the isolation of new mAbs specific for this virus.”
In addition to Vir’s mAb efforts, its scientists are planning to apply whole genome CRISPR-based screening capabilities (Vir’s innate immunity platform) to identify the host receptor that allows Wuhan coronavirus infection. This may allow additional approaches to address this rapidly emerging public health concern.
“We appreciate the threat this pathogen presents, and are utilizing our technologies to determine whether we currently have, or can identify, therapies to neutralize this virus,” said George Scangos, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Vir. “We don’t know yet if these efforts will be successful, but we are working aggressively to find out.”