San Francisco company engineered antibodies to help fight COVID-19

As scientists and pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, Distributed Bio, a San Francisco-based company, is attempting to create a faster way of generating antibodies than a vaccine.

Jacob Glanville, a computational immuno-engineer, is the CEO of Distributed Bio. His idea about engineering antibodies for coronavirus came from his experience in studying SARS antibodies. Glanville found five SARS antibodies from nearly 20 years ago. He intended to mutate them since the noval coronavirus is a cousin of the SARS virus.

"If you are to zoom in to the coronavirus, you would see it as a series of these evil looking spikes. It uses those spikes to attack your cells to break them open and inject its malicious genetic payload," Glanville said.

Distributed Bio engineered those antibodies to bind and block the spikes of the coronavirus. It has sent their therapeutic antibody to three labs – including one at Stanford University.

All three reported back ultra-potent neutralization of the virus.

According to Glanville, it usually takes about four weeks for a vaccine to generate antibodies in a patient's body. But if engineered antibodies are injected into the body, a patient would be immediately protected.

Glanville says it is possible the antibodies could be given to healthcare workers to provide about eight weeks of protection.

He also says it is important the therapeutic be manufactured around the world and be made affordable.

Distributed Bio has already sent antibodies to two independent labs to be tested on hamsters. They're awaiting those results. If everything goes well, human trials could be a short time away.

Check out The China Report, our new weekly newsletter. Subscribe here!