University of Hyderabad (UoH) and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology are collaborating with Vins Bioproducts Ltd, a well-known antisera manufacturing company which is also incubated at University of Hyderabad BioNEST incubation center have tied up to develop antibody fragment-based immunotherapy for immediate treatment for COVID-19 pandemic.

The use of antibodies has been an effective method in protecting against several human and animal diseases.  Although plasma-based passive immunity against COVID 19 has been reported to be working well in clinical trials, it has several theoretical and practical concerns including limitation in the availability of human plasma samples.  As the pandemic has become a major global crisis, scientists are exploring alternative strategies of using horses or other higher animals to generate antibodies against the SARS-COV2 viral antigens. The antibodies, raised in horses using inactivated coronavirus is fractionated and purified to produce antibody fragments F(ab’)2 for neutralizing corona virus in the patients for recovery.

This collaborative effort plans to use the F(ab’)2 platform technology which has been providing neutralizing antibodies from horses for a variety of life-threatening pathologies in humans as anti-venoms, anti-toxins and anti-virals.  Horse-based immunoglobulins can be produced in large quantities as a promising alternative therapy, which would be economical and can be made readily available to a larger population.  The collaborators have complementary expertise required for developing the therapy for treating the COVID 19 pandemic. The team is quite hopeful about this treatment and feels that this would be more productive, efficient, safe, which can meet the enormous requirement for the treatment of COVID19 infection.

The UoH team is headed by Dr. Nooruddin Khan, an Associate Professor at the Department of Animal Biology, School of Life Sciences. Dr. Khan’s laboratory specializes in the area of immunology, infection biology, and vaccinology. The Team at CCMB is headed by Dr. Krishnan Harinivas, who is a principal scientist and specializes in the area of molecular virology. Dr. Krishna Mohan is leading the research team at VINS. Dr. Mohan specializes in bioprocessing and product Development.

Mr. Siddharth Daga, CEO of Vins Bioproducts Ltd., expressed his confidence in the fast track development by complimenting the technical and infrastructural strengths available in the three collaborating organizations and making available a very specific therapeutic anti viral product in the shortest possible time.

Prof. Appa Rao Podile, Vice-Chancellor, UoH expressed happiness at this collaborative effort and hoped that this would result in a successful development of antibody fragment-based immunotherapy for immediate treatment for COVID-19 pandemic at the earliest.