Antibodies at work in the time of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

Cytotherapy. 2021 Feb;23(2):101-110. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2020.08.009. Epub 2020 Aug 31.


In view of devastating effects of COVID-19 on human life, there is an urgent need for the licened vaccines or therapeutics for the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Age-old passive immunization with protective antibodies to neutralize the virus is one of the strategies for emergency prophylaxis and therapy for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In this review, the authors discuss up-to-date advances in immune-based therapy for COVID-19. The use of convalescent plasma therapy as the first line of defense to treat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has been established, with encouraging results. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that bind to the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein or block the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 RBD and the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor have been found to be very promising as a countermeasure for tackling the SARS-CoV-2 infection, and clinical trials are underway. Considering the counterproductive antibody-dependent enhancement of the virus, mAbs therapy that is safe and efficacious, even in people with underlying conditions, will be a significant breakthrough. In addition, emerging immunotherapeutic interventions using nanobodies and cellular immunotherapy are promising avenues for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors also discuss the implication of mAbs as mediators of cytokine storm syndrome to modify the immune response of COVID-19 patients, thus reducing the fatality rate of COVID-19 infection.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; convalescent plasma therapy; immunotherapy; monoclonal antibodies; nanobodies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / immunology
  • COVID-19 / therapy
  • COVID-19 Serotherapy
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Immunomodulation
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral