The Middle-East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a zoonotic virus that causes severe and often fatal respiratory disease in humans. Efforts to develop antibody-based therapies have focused on neutralizing antibodies that target the receptor binding domain of the viral spike protein thereby blocking receptor binding. Here, we developed a set of human monoclonal antibodies that target functionally distinct domains of the MERS-CoV spike protein. These antibodies belong to six distinct epitope groups and interfere with the three critical entry functions of the MERS-CoV spike protein: sialic acid binding, receptor binding and membrane fusion. Passive immunization with potently as well as with poorly neutralizing antibodies protected mice from lethal MERS-CoV challenge. Collectively, these antibodies offer new ways to gain humoral protection in humans against the emerging MERS-CoV by targeting different spike protein epitopes and functions.

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Keywords Coronavirus, MERS, antibodies, spike protein
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Journal Emerging Microbes & Infections
Widjaja, I., Wang, CY, van Haperen, M.J, Gutierrez-Alvarez, J., van Dieren, B., Okba, N.M.A., … Bosch, BJ. (2019). Towards a solution to MERS: protective human monoclonal antibodies targeting different domains and functions of the MERS-coronavirus spike glycoprotein. Emerging Microbes & Infections, 8(1), 516–530. doi:10.1080/22221751.2019.1597644