Fusion Antibodies have today announced an update to its research and development catalogue following on from the emergence of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.529 (“Omicron”). The data on Omicron was added to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (“GISAID”) archive on 22 November 2021. GISAID is an existing platform for sharing influenza virus sequences and primary information.
In response to the World Health Organisation (WHO) designating Omicron as a “Variant of Concern”, Fusion is developing receptor-binding domain (“RBD”) antigens as part of the Northern Ireland Coronavirus Antibody Development Alliance (NICADA). The Company has decided to include Omicron RBD, alongside the alpha, beta, gamma and delta+ RBD variants, in its development programme with the aim of producing virus-neutralising antibodies. Whilst there can be no guarantee as to the outcome of the inclusion of Omicron in the development programme, if successful, these state-of-the-art antibodies would have affinity to the Omicron RBD and therefore potential neutralisation ability, while also aiding diagnostic testing efforts.
Dr Richard Buick, Chief Scientific Officer at Fusion Antibodies said:
“We have decided to try to progress this opportunity given the appearance of the Omicron variant, although we must stress that this is in the very early stages of conception, and we do not have any guarantees in terms of effectiveness or durability. Omicron has many mutations in the RBD region of the spike protein, and these mutations could help the
virus evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible.
“However, by leveraging our experience in developing antibodies against the previous SARS-CoV-2 variants, we would hope that the development of an Omicron RBD-binding antibody could potentially be much accelerated in comparison to previous variants. We are conscious that the fight against COVID-19 is a worldwide effort and as such we are happy to announce our decision to make these proteins available for research and development purposes.”