The Cutting Edge of COVID-19 Vaccine Development

by | May 22, 2020

 

You’ll definitely want to listen to this interview! A cure for COVID-19 could be just around the corner, and our guests on WealthWise today are actively working toward finding such a cure.

In an informative and fascinating discussion, Raging Bull CEO Jeff Bishop and our Elite chatroom host Hitha Herzog spoke with Dr. Henry Ji and Dr. Mark R. Brunswick from Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRNE). Dr. Ji is Chairman, President and CEO of Sorrento Therapeutics, and he spoke about the cutting edge of developments at Sorrento to find a cure for COVID-19.

But not through vaccination, at least as you might already understand that term.

We dive into some deep and fascinating science here but stick with me here; my own major was not in science, it was in history! 

Throughout this compelling interview Dr. Ji explains some of the unique facets of Sorrento’s approach to finding a cure for COVID-19 in such a lucid and engaging way that while I found myself absorbed and filled with many questions. 

Sorrento is a biopharmaceutical company, and who previously developed antibody-centric technologies to pioneer a treatment to turn malignant cancers into not only manageable, but possibly curable diseases. 

Cancers are genetically diverse, highly adaptive, constantly mutating and virtually invisible to the immune system, making them very difficult for the body to heal on its own (the cancer cells can look even more like ordinary cells than normal cells themselves do!) 

And so the possibility that the same technology could be applied to COVID-19 opens up an exciting area of research possibilities, one that Sorrento is pioneering.

 

So, It’s a Vaccine? Not Quite…

 

This method differs from other “classic” vaccine-development based approaches to curing the disease, and Drs. Ji and Brunswick shared how their technology differs, and why the method may hold new hope in finding a potential cure.

Sorrento’s approach seeks to find the minimal effective dose of the correct antibody that blocks completely the COVID-19 viral cells and that then binds to them or effectively “smothers” them so that they cannot further replicate in the body in otherwise healthy cells.

 

Sorrento’s Antibody-Based Approach to a COVID-19 Cure

 

Antibodies are cells in your body that act like minuscule “security guards” whose purpose is to ward off infections and foreign bodies in your cells. If you catch a cold, your body produces antibodies to fight those cold virus cells.

A vaccine-based approach attempts to find and isolate COVID-19 cells, remove the “active viral ingredient” from within those COVID-19 cells, and then inject your body with the dormant “shell” of those COVID-19 viral cells.

The cells thus-injected look like the full COVID-19 viral cells to your body, but they don’t contain the active “dangerous” parts of the cells, only the shell of the cells. Your body then uses that to create antibodies that can subsequently fight off the real, active version of the virus should you ever catch it.

Sorrento’s approach differs in that rather than trying to stimulate your body to make its own antibodies by injecting you with a dormant version of the COVID-19 virus, they instead attempt to find and isolate the specific antibody that will completely block the COVID-19 virus, and then give that to your body. By having a supply of the antibodies, your body doesn’t then need to manufacture its own antibodies.

Two different approaches to the same problem: find an effective cure for COVID-19.

Sorrento has a library of over 1 billion different antibodies, and Dr. Ji describes that they’ve found one – one in a billion! – antibody that blocks COVID-19 viral cells completely under laboratory conditions.

Learn more about Sorrento’s work and include the science, timeline, funding and potential implications to the world if this approach makes it through the testing phase.