Limited pre-existing immunity to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and rapid, effective transmission from human-to-human are thought to be responsible for the explosive increase in cases across the world. Development of safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics to prevent and treat SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19) is a global urgency. Convalescent plasma has been used successfully as post-exposure prophylaxis and/or treatment of infectious diseases, including other outbreaks of coronaviruses (e.g., SARS-1, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome [MERS]) (Momattin et al., 2013). The preliminary clinical data on the use of convalescent plasma from COVID-19 patients suggest the potential clinical benefits of COVID-19 plasma therapy (Salazar et al., 2020). Given that the supplies of convalescent plasma are insufficient to meet the growing demand of COVID-19 patients, the discovery of potent neutralizing monoclonal antibody that can easily be scaled up using controlled biomanufacturing process will be critical.
AR-701 was identified by screening the blood of COVID-19 convalescent dozens of patients in US and EU using Aridis’s APEXTM platform technology. AR-701 is comprised of multiple fully human IgG1s monoclonal antibodies directed at conserved regions of the SARs-CoV-2 envelope proteins. AR-701 mAbs are designed to maintain broad coverage of SARs-CoV-2, including recently reported variants of SARS-CoV-2 such as the D614G variant (Korber, 2020), possible future variants of SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, AR-701 mAbs have been engineered for prolonged the duration of protection well beyond that afforded by typical mAbs. AR-701 is designed to block the binding and propagation of infection by SARS-CoV-2 of human lung cells (see below).