IONTAS and FairJourney Biologics Discover SARS-CoV2 Neutralizing Antibodies with Picomolar Potency

  • Panel of 15 potent antibodies selected that are optimally suited to clinical development and manufacturing

  • Monoclonal antibodies have the potential to both treat infected patients and provide protection to the “at risk” population during the pandemic

  • Viral neutralization data independently verified by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)

  • Project is part of an industry-wide collaboration under the BioIndustry Association’s antibody taskforce

IONTAS and FairJourney Biologics, two leading antibody discovery Clinical Research Organisations (CROs) that joined forces this year, today announce the discovery of potent SARS-CoV2 neutralizing antibodies as potential therapeutics for COVID-19.

The newly-identified panel of antibodies have been shown to block infection at doses as low as 20pM in pseudoviral assays and 100pM in live coronavirus assays, surpassing or matching the best antibodies reported. This viral neutralization efficiency was independently verified by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), a key player in assuring the quality of biological medicines nationally and internationally, including for the World Health Organisation.

In an unparalleled timeframe of just two months, hundreds of virus-neutralizing antibodies were isolated and characterized from the blood of donors who were recovering from COVID-19. A final panel of 15 potent SARS-CoV2 neutralizing antibodies were then selected, which have biophysical properties well suited for downstream drug development, such as low polyreactivity and resistance to aggregation. This reduces the risk for future clinical development and manufacturing.

While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19, passive immunization using monoclonal antibodies may also play a vital role. Viral neutralizing antibodies can offer a two-in-one approach; they can be used both to treat symptomatic individuals following acute exposure, and as a prophylactic to protect healthcare workers and at-risk groups, including individuals who respond poorly to vaccines.

John McCafferty, Chief Scientific Officer of IONTAS, commented: “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, biopharmaceutical companies have demonstrated the capability and willingness to break boundaries in how we work together to benefit the global community. In so doing, extraordinary advances have been made on tight time scales. IONTAS and FairJourney Biologics’ achievement, which takes advantage of our efficiency and years of experience in antibody discovery, is a prime example of this.”

Antonio Parada, CEO of IONTAS and FairJourney Biologics, added: “We are proud of the work we have done to develop highly potent SARS-CoV2 neutralizing antibodies in such a short time. The viral neutralizing effect of these antibodies position them to be able to both block and treat infection. Our next step is to identify partners with the expertise and ability to progress these promising assets into the clinic, with an aim to develop a treatment for COVID-19.”

This project was undertaken as part of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) Antibody Task Force, which developed an accelerated and rigorous multi-pronged assessment approach in order to create and identify the best antibodies within months.

Antibody therapies give clinicians additional therapeutic options in the fight against COVID-19 alongside other approaches such as vaccines. The BIA coalition includes organisations from across the UK biotech community, including representatives from industry, academia and charities, to rapidly discover, develop and manufacture antibody therapies to protect against, or treat, COVID-19. It aims to produce an effective therapy to treat newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and provide a preventative therapy for high-risk individuals such as healthcare workers and/or the elderly.

FairJourney Biologics and IONTAS announced their partnership to expedite the identification of effective antibodies for a therapeutic to treat COVID-19 patients in April this year. It was on the back of this successful partnership that, in May 2020, the two CROs announced they would be combining their operations.


About FairJourney Biologics

FairJourney Biologics is a leading biologics CRO, providing integrated services across antibody discovery, engineering and production to global biopharma. Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Porto, FairJourney has grown to over 90 highly technically skilled employees today. The Company operates a flexible, customer-oriented ‘one-stop shop’ approach to biologics development focused on quality, reliability and partnership. FairJourney has successfully completed more than 460 projects for over 70 customers across big pharma and leading biotech companies to date. The Company’s significant expertise in phage display technology, combined with a diverse approach to generating both immune and naïve antibody libraries have contributed to a market leading 99%+ project success rate.


IONTAS was recently integrated in the FairJourney Group, financed by Global Healthcare Opportunities, or GHO Capital Partners LLP (GHO), the European specialist investor in healthcare. IONTAS offers services for antibody discovery using Phage Display Technology and Mammalian Display. The innovative Mammalian Display platform enables full-length antibodies to be expressed in the context of a mammalian cell, thereby allowing selection based on function, stability, expression and developability.

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Instinctif Partners
Agnes Stephens – [email protected]
Katie Duffell – [email protected]

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