Can Mini Antibodies Lead to Faster, Cheaper Antiviral Drugs?

As Lindsay Borthwick reports for Meta, a free research discovery tool from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, researchers of various disciplines are looking for small ways (yes, physically) to make a large impact on Covid-19. She writes:

With so many candidates, the challenge is to quickly identify the most potent antibodies, as well as those that can be moved most rapidly from the bench to the bedside. That is where size comes in.

Monoclonal antibodies are just 10 nanometers in size, but because of their bulk, many antibody-based therapies, including Lilly’s, need to be administered intravenously at a hospital or clinic. Entering the body via the bloodstream also means they don’t directly target tissues like the lung where they are needed most. Antibody-based therapies can also be expensive to manufacture.

Those drawbacks have researchers — structural biologists, virologists, immunologists, computational biologists, and clinicians — joining forces and banking that they can have a big impact on the fight against Covid-19 by going small. They are taking a variety of approaches to engineer mini antibodies that are just one-tenth the size of conventional ones but still pack a punch.

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