Dr Phillip Pymm, Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence division

Dr Phillip Pymm, Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence division

Start Time: 
Wed, 24/03/2021 - 1:00pm
End Time: 
Wed, 24/03/2021 - 2:00pm

WEHI Wednesday Seminar hosted by Associate Professor Wai-Hong Tham

Dr Phillip Pymm
Senior Research Officer - Tham Laboratory, Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence division

Development of antibody-based therapeutics for COVID-19

Online seminar: access Slido and enter code #WEHIWEDNESDAY
Includes Q&A session


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has challenged health systems around the world and highlighted an urgent need for therapeutics that ameliorate disease. While approval and distribution of vaccines is ongoing, there remains a need for therapies to protect and treat vulnerable populations for whom a vaccine may be less effective, as well as to combat emerging and future COVID-19 variants. 

Monoclonal antibodies are an attractive option for COVID-19 therapeutics as immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection show that neutralising antibodies are produced in the majority of patients, and animal models show protection from reinfection. Antibody therapies are well established as the leading treatments for number of human diseases, including oncology, autoimmunity and chronic inflammation. The most effective treatments for the recent Ebola outbreak were monoclonal antibody cocktails.

Our strategic partnership with academic and industry leaders in infectious disease and antibody therapeutics employed complementary rapid antibody discovery platforms to identify neutralising antibodies and nanobodies against SARS-CoV-2. These high-affinity and potent immunoglobulins block virus entry into cells and suppress virus infection in mouse models. Using both cryo-EM and X-ray crystallography approaches, our structural findings reveal the fine specificities of neutralizing antibodies associated with multiple distinct sites on SARS-CoV-2 proteins. These structural blueprints identify complementary antibodies for rational design of therapeutic cocktails.