When it comes to potential prophylactic and treatment agents, the multivalent protein-based minibinders might be the greatest choice. They can “remember” their activity against the SARS-CoV-2 variants. This was revealed in recent research, and we are bound to find more.
The variants of SARS-CoV-2, the agents that caused the coronavirus pandemic, might be a threat to our progress in defeating the disease once and for all. Besides the vaccines – that are now given to many countries – we might need additional treatment.
The monoclonal antibodies which are meant to fight the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein can improve the results for patients suffering from COVID-19. But producing them in sufficient quantities for that, in order to be used by the population during this pandemic, is not financially doable.
Also, many monoclonal antibodies are a bit sensitive to viral escapes because they confer point mutations in their epitope on the spike glycoprotein trimer. Researchers found out about this by making a cocktail of different monoclonal antibodies that target different epitopes. However, it has been shown that the new variants are able to escape it, as well.
Researchers started to look for an alternative to monoclonal antibodies. Previous work has used computational power in order to make the miniproteins that could block the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) interaction between the host receptor and the spike glycoprotein trimer. They were called ‘minibinders’.
Will it resist the viral escape?
It has been shown that the trivalent minibinders can get all of the three receptor binding domains on a single spike glycoprotein trimer. The results have also shown the precision with which both the protein binding interfaces and protein scaffolds can be designed.
Candidates – mice, for now – can neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 variants. They can also resist the viral escape.