June 1, 2021

Exploring epitope and functional diversity of anti-SARS-CoV2 antibodies using AI-based methods.

Since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemics, an unprecedented research effort has been conducted to analyze the antibody responses in patients, and many trials based on passive immunotherapy — notably monoclonal antibodies — are ongoing. Twenty-one antibodies have entered clinical trials, 6 having reached phase 2/3, phase 3 or having received emergency authorization. The main problem facing laboratories willing to develop such antibodies is the huge task of analyzing them and choosing the best candidate for exhaustive experimental validation. In this work we show how artificial intelligence-based methods can help in analyzing large sets of antibodies in order to determine in a few hours the best candidates in few hours. We use MAbTope to predict the epitopes for all antibodies for which they are not already known. This allows an exhaustive comparison of the available epitopes, but also gives a synthetic view of the possible combinations. Finally, we show how these results can be used to predict which antibodies might be affected by the different mutations arising in the circulating strains of the virus, such as the N501Y mutation that has started to spread in Great-Britain.