New COVID Subvariant Resistant to Antibody Therapies Discovered

Recent research conducted by scientists at the German Primate Center (DPZ) – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research and Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg has highlighted the need for new antibody therapies for high-risk patients. This is due to the increasing prevalence of the Omicron sub-lineage BQ.1.1 of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is resistant to all currently approved antibody therapies.

The study found that the Omicron subvariant BQ.1.1 could not be neutralized by either individual antibodies or antibody cocktails, while the predominant Omicron subvariant BA.5 was still neutralized by one approved antibody and two approved antibody cocktails.

The researchers warn that physicians should not rely solely on antibody therapies when treating infected high-risk patients, but should also consider administering other drugs such as paxlovid or molnupiravir in regions where BQ.1.1 is widespread.

The lead author of the study, Prerna Arora, explains that they tested twelve individual antibodies, six of which are approved for clinical use in Europe, and four antibody cocktails. They measured the amount of antibody needed to inhibit infection of cell cultures.

Stefan Pöhlmann, head of the Infection Biology Unit at the German Primate Center – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, commented that the development of antibody resistance of SARS-CoV-2 variants calls for the development of new antibody therapies that are specifically targeted to current and future viral variants.

The need for new antibody therapies is becoming more urgent as the Omicron subvariant BQ.1.1 is becoming increasingly widespread and is resistant to existing antibody therapies. This is an important issue for high-risk patients, as these therapies may be the only way to protect them from the virus. It is therefore essential that researchers continue to develop new antibody therapies to protect patients from this dangerous virus.


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