A San Diego company says it's leading the charge in the race to get ahead of dangerous COVID-19 variants.
The variants showing up in San Diego County, including the U.K, South Africa and Brazil variants, have proven to be more easily transmitted and, in some cases, less susceptible to certain treatments.
The pandemic was immediately met with an army-like effort by the scientific community to defeat COVID-19. Some of those soldiers were not even in the business of infectious diseases.
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"We're an antibody company that has been working on cancer for years and we are very good at engineering antibodies and discovering antibodies," Sorrento Therapeutics VP of Antiviral Development said.
Sorrento Therapeutics, based in San Diego, is working on a neutralizing antibody that would combat the variant strains of COVID-19. Clinical trials are underway and the treatment, which would be administered via nasal drops, could be ready this year.
"By putting the antibody in the nose, it blocks the replication, blocks the spreading and blocking that which is infecting the lungs,” Sorrento Therapeutics CEO Henry Ji said.
The three approved COVID-19 vaccines help your immune system produce antibodies to fight infection. Sorrento's engineered antibodies are designed to attack variants of the disease. Allen said their process allows them to develop neutralizing antibodies with each mutation of the original virus.
"While you are waiting on the vaccine to give you the protection that a vaccine affords, then you would be issued a neutralizing antibody to protect you in the interim,” Allen said.
Therefore lowering the risk of hospitalization and lessening the severity of the disease Allen said.
"Thats why it is important to look at cocktails that can be affective against all known variants,” Chief Medical Officer Mike Royal said.
The neutralizing antibodies are not a vaccine, but rather a supplement to the vaccine. If approved, the treatment would put us ahead of COVID-19 instead of chasing it, the company said.
The nasal drops don't require special refrigeration and are only needed in small amounts, which cuts down on the cost, according to Sorrento Therapeutics.