Vanderbilt University Medical Center and IDBiologics Ally in Race to Develop Breakthrough Medicines
May 07, 2020 NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and the biotech company IDBiologics, Inc., have joined forces to develop novel monoclonal antibody medicines that could potentially treat COVID-19 or prevent infection from the causative virus called SARS-CoV-2. Under a recently signed agreement, certain monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) discovered in the laboratory of Dr. James Crowe in the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center (VVC) will be shared with IDBiologics for evaluation and potential licensing and clinical development. The overarching goal of this alliance is to develop safe and effective mAbs through FDA approval as either treatments for people suffering COVID-19 disease, protecting people exposed to the SARS-CoV-19 but not yet showing symptoms of disease, or preventing infection in susceptible individuals in the community. “Our Vanderbilt team is pleased to partner with IDBiologics to race potent neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies to the clinic,” Dr. Crowe said. “The speed with which they plan to advance this medical countermeasure to clinical trials is important. The company has an experienced group of successful antibody developers and integrated partnerships with leading global manufacturers.” Kenneth Kelley, Executive Chairman of IDBiologics said: “By allying our skills and experiences, we seek to develop the most potent and safe mAbs for treatment and prevention in record time to help solve this outbreak.” Backed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the US Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund at Vanderbilt, the VVC researchers have developed the ability to identify and isolate individual antibody-producing white blood cells called B-cells that produce antibodies that target a specific viral protein. In this case, the team targeted the “spike” protein of SARS-CoV-2, and successfully identified numerous antibodies. Now the researchers are selecting those antibodies with favorable characteristics to be further studied, engineered and tested in animal models for potential subsequent development. In the past, using these techniques, the VVC team had successfully generated mAbs against many other pathogenic viruses including Ebola, chikungunya, HIV, influenza, dengue, norovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Zika virus. The VVC team and IDBiologics also are collaborating on developing therapies to neutralize other viruses such as influenza, Zika and RSV but are now prioritizing SARS-CoV-2. There is currently no effective treatment for COVID-19 or vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 to protect susceptible individuals anywhere in the world. To date more than 3.7 million confirmed cases and over 250,000 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported worldwide and the incidence continues to grow exponentially. About IDBiologics, Inc. IDBiologics is a biotech startup focused on the development of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for the treatment and prevention of major infectious diseases. The company was founded in 2017 and seeded by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in response to the threat of global pandemics stemming from the West Africa Ebola crisis and the successful demonstration of monoclonal antibodies as potential treatments. IDBiologics is privately held and is developing a portfolio of mAbs against SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and Zika viruses with a world-class development team.