Candidates: Antibodies bioengineered to fight COVID-19
Type: Broadly neutralizing antibodies based on the company’s SuperHuman platform, which according to the company is the world’s most advanced computationally optimized human antibody library for antibody discovery.
2021 Status: A year after Distributed Bio gained fame in a Netflix documentary series about preventing pandemics, the biologics discovery contract research organization which spun out a therapeutics company focused in part on COVID-19 has been acquired by Charles River Laboratories—its collaboration partner of more than two years—for up to $104 million.
In January 2020, as COVID-19 began to wreak havoc on the world, Distributed Bio and its CEO, president, and chairman Jacob Glanville, PhD, were featured in the first season of Netflix’s “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak,” focused on efforts by doctors, researchers, healthcare workers, and public health officials to fight influenza and future global pandemics.
Glanville and Distributed Bio were featured in the Netflix docuseries for their efforts to develop a broad-spectrum “universal” vaccine technology. In January 2020, Distributed Bio spun out Centivax, a company focused on developing the universal vaccine and COVID-19 therapeutics as part of a portfolio that also includes anti-pandemic vaccines, universal antivenom, anti-infectives, autoimmunity, and oncology biotherapeutics.
In a tweet January 4, Glanville said Centivax will continue to develop those and other products following Distributed Bio’s sale to Charles River Labs: “@CRiverLabs acquires my first venture, @distributedbio! I move forward with my second venture, @centivax, with the entire therapeutics portfolio: COVID-19, universal vaccines, antivenin, anti-infectives, CXCR5, and more. Solid start to 2021.”
In response to a tweet questioning if that will result in accelerated antibody development, Glanville replied: “Helps us focus on them 100% and means I can invest personally in their success. We are also looking into a way to enable investment by the masses through NetCapital.”
2020 Status: Distributed Bio’s CEO, president, and chairman Jacob Glanville, PhD, wrote April 2 that after nine weeks using its Tumbler technology, the company has generated thousands of extremely potent picomolar antibody binders that block known neutralizing ACE2 epitopes, blocking the SARS-CoV-2 from infecting human cells. “Hundreds of potent candidate therapeutic antibodies discovered that block the ACE2 receptor interaction with virus,” Distributed stated in a presentation.
A day earlier in a series of tweets, Glanville said the company’s approach was a “candidate cure” for COVID-19, and added: “We are trying to get this out by September but it will need funding and efficient GMP manufacturing.” That earned the company attention from news outlets as varied as Yahoo! Finance, Fox News Channel, and Radio New Zealand.
In March, Glanville told a South Korean outlet that the company was working to extract five SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and mutate them into 1 billion different types to see whether any of the antibodies bind to the virus that causes COVID-19. If a potential antibody was to be identified, it could be mass produced in August or September, predicted Glanville.
COVID-19: 300 Candidates and Counting
To navigate through the >300 potential therapeutic and vaccine options for COVID-19, GEN has grouped the candidates into four broad categories based on their developmental and (where applicable) clinical progress:
● FRONT RUNNER – the most promising therapeutics/vaccines based on clinical progress, favorable data or both.
● DEFINITELY MAYBE – earlier phases with promising partners, or more advanced candidates in development that have generated uneven data
● KEEPING AN EYE ON… – interesting technology, attracting notable partners, or both, but preliminary data.
● TOO SOON TO TELL – longshots pending additional experimental and/or clinical data.
GEN has also tagged the most common treatment types: