BioDuro to Develop COVID-19 Nanobody Therapeutic


Specialized COVID-19 team and technology assembled to accelerate discovery of new biologic

BioDuro, a global life sciences contract research and development organization, has initiated a COVID-19 nanobody therapeutic program, leveraging the company’s biologics discovery platform and a specialized COVID-19 dedicated team. The cornerstone of the effort includes screening more than 10 billion human synthetic antibodies generated using Artificial Intelligence (AI) computing and high-speed DNA mutagenesis technology.
BioDuro’s COVID-19 program relies on synthetic antibody technology, targeting both ACE2 receptor on the human cell and spike protein on the virus. The goal is to block the viral entry and fusion into the cell. To do so, BioDuro’s COVID-19 team built a high diversity phage displayed synthetic antibody library, which comprises approximately 10 billion human antibodies. Each antibody in the library is made different using high speed DNA mutagenesis, a process which BioDuro scientists optimized using advanced AI computing.
The next step for the BioDuro team will be to screen each of the billions of antibodies—a process that will take a few months—to determine which antibody disrupts the virus most optimally. The final product aims to be a nanobody, which is an antibody, but contains only a single, very small unit needed for recognition and disruption of the COVID-19 targets.
“A significant advantage of the nanobody is that it is smaller, usually more stable and has better tissue penetration than a conventional antibody,” said Xiang Li, DPhil, senior vice president, integrated biology, BioDuro. “This enables a direct pulmonary delivery route such as respiratory spray or atomizer, which can enhance efficacy by achieving high levels of local dose in areas of the lung that are needed, while minimizing side-effects that might be associated with systemic deliveries.”
BioDuro has dedicated a comprehensive scientific team to this program, including scientists with expertise in computational AI, phage display, assay development, protein purification, cell biology and biochemistry. The rest of the company’s contract research groups, including biologics DMPK and preclinical models for toxicology and efficacy will support the advancement of the effort as needed.
With the support from Global Health Drug Discovery Institute (GHDDI), BioDuro is developing and providing biochemical and cell-based assays to support COVID-19 drug discovery, for both small molecules and therapeutic antibodies. GHDDI was jointly founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Tsinghua University and Beijing Municipal Government in 2016, with a key focus to develop and support antiviral therapies.
“We want to leverage the COVID-19 drug discovery expertise and network in China, to help our clients develop better therapeutics,” said TJ Deng, president, BioDuro China. “And we can get to a clinical candidate more quickly because BioDuro is a fully integrated discovery and development organization, meaning we can rapidly advance from screening, to DMPK testing, to preclinical animal studies all under one roof and within the same company.”
Part of the funding for BioDuro’s COVID-19 initiative is from the city of Wuxi, Jiangsu local government, the same district where BioDuro is opening its fourth global site in Q3, 2020.