In silico Antibody Mutagenesis for Optimizing its Binding to the Spike Protein of SARS-CoV-2
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an ongoing global pandemic and there are currently no FDA approved medicines for treatment or prevention. Inspired by promising outcomes for convalescent plasma treatment, developing antibody drugs (biologics) to block SARS-CoV-2 infection has been the focus of drug discovery, along with tremendous efforts in repurposing small-molecule drugs. In the last several months, experimentally, many human neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were successfully extracted from plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients. Currently, several mAbs targeting the SARS-CoV-2's spike protein (Spro) are in clinical trials. With known atomic structures of mAb-Spro complex, it becomes possible to in silico investigate the molecular mechanism of mAb's binding with Spro and design more potent mAbs through protein mutagenesis studies, complementary to existing experimental efforts. Leveraging superb computing power nowadays, we propose a fully automated in silico protocol for quickly identifying possible mutations in a mAb (e.g.~CB6) to enhance its binding affinity with Spro for the design of more efficacious therapeutic mAbs.