Vanderbilt develops technology that helped researchers discover ‘ultra-potent’ antibodies

Posted at 1:16 PM, Sep 22, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An “ultra-potent” monoclonal antibody has been discovered in the fight against COVID-19, thanks to technology developed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the hospital announced Wednesday.

Vanderbilt said the technology – called LIBRA-seq, which stands for Linking B-cell Receptor to Antigen Specificity through sequencing – has helped speed up the discovery of antibodies that can neutralize multiple variants SARS-CoV-2, including the delta variant.

The research was published on September 15 in the journal "Cell Reports."

VUMC said researchers can also use the technology to screen antibodies against other viruses that have not yet caused human disease but have the potential of doing so.

“This is one way to proactively build a repertoire of potential therapeutics against future outbreaks,” said Ivelin Georgiev, Ph.D., the director of the Vanderbilt Program in Computational Microbiology and Immunology and associate director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation. “The pathogens keep evolving, and we’re basically playing catch-up.”

"Georgiev and his colleagues describe the isolation of a monoclonal antibody from a patient who had recovered from COVID-19 that ‘shows potent neutralization’ against SARS-CoV-2," according to a release from Vanderbilt. "It also is effective against variants of the virus that are slowing efforts to control the pandemic.”

Georgiev said a “more proactive approach” is needed to help anticipate future outbreaks before they happen and prevent a repeat of COVID-19, “or something worse happening in the future.”

VUMC said LIBRA-seq was developed in 2019 by Ian Setliff, PhD, a graduate student in Georgiev’s lab who now works in the biotechnology industry, and by Andrea Shiakolas, a current Vanderbilt graduate student.

Laken Bowles at WTVF first reported this story.