Mäkelä AR, Uğurlu H, Hannula L, Kant R, Salminen P, Fagerlund R, Mäki S, Haveri A, Strandin T, Kareinen L, Hepojoki J, Kuivanen S, Levanov L, Pasternack A, Naves RA, Ritvos O, Österlund P, Sironen T, Vapalahti O, Kipar A, Huiskonen JT, Rissanen I, Saksela K
Nat Commun 14 (1) 1637 [2023-03-24; online 2023-03-24]
The emergence of increasingly immunoevasive SARS-CoV-2 variants emphasizes the need for prophylactic strategies to complement vaccination in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Intranasal administration of neutralizing antibodies has shown encouraging protective potential but there remains a need for SARS-CoV-2 blocking agents that are less vulnerable to mutational viral variation and more economical to produce in large scale. Here we describe TriSb92, a highly manufacturable and stable trimeric antibody-mimetic sherpabody targeted against a conserved region of the viral spike glycoprotein. TriSb92 potently neutralizes SARS-CoV-2, including the latest Omicron variants like BF.7, XBB, and BQ.1.1. In female Balb/c mice intranasal administration of just 5 or 50 micrograms of TriSb92 as early as 8 h before but also 4 h after SARS-CoV-2 challenge can protect from infection. Cryo-EM and biochemical studies reveal triggering of a conformational shift in the spike trimer as the inhibitory mechanism of TriSb92. The potency and robust biochemical properties of TriSb92 together with its resistance against viral sequence evolution suggest that TriSb92 could be useful as a nasal spray for protecting susceptible individuals from SARS-CoV-2 infection.