Isolation of Potent SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Antibodies and Protection From Disease in a Small Animal Model

Science. 2020 Jun 15;eabc7520. doi: 10.1126/science.abc7520. Online ahead of print.


Countermeasures to prevent and treat COVID-19 are a global health priority. We enrolled a cohort of SARS-CoV-2-recovered participants, developed neutralization assays to interrogate antibody responses, adapted our high-throughput antibody generation pipeline to rapidly screen over 1800 antibodies, and established an animal model to test protection. We isolated potent neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) to two epitopes on the receptor binding domain (RBD) and to distinct non-RBD epitopes on the spike (S) protein. We showed that passive transfer of a nAb provides protection against disease in high-dose SARS-CoV-2 challenge in Syrian hamsters, as revealed by maintained weight and low lung viral titers in treated animals. The study suggests a role for nAbs in prophylaxis, and potentially therapy, of COVID-19. The nAbs define protective epitopes to guide vaccine design.