Potential COVID-19 treatment and vaccine combination shows success in cells

A possible treatment and vaccine combination for COVID-19 has shown positive results in pre-clinical studies using human cells.


A potential treatment and vaccine combination for COVID-19 has been developed and has shown positive results in laboratory studies using human cells. Created by Ligandal, the synthetic peptide named SARS-BLOCK™ could work as an effective treatment and vaccine against COVID-19. 

The experiments to test the peptide were conducted in conjunction with the Stroud Lab at the University of California San Francisco, US. According to the researchers, they demonstrated that SARS-BLOCK halts infection of SARS-CoV-2 in human cells expressing the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) viral entry receptor. In addition to this, the potential drug has high affinity with neutralising antibodies, which the team say will likely lead to an enhanced immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Andre Watson, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Ligandal, said: “Our results so far have been very positive. We have demonstrated SARS-BLOCK inhibits ACE2 cellular entry of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein. We have also established that SARS-BLOCK prevents infection of ACE2-expressing cells by the virus. We are grateful for the work Professor Stroud and his team have done in helping us understand the efficacy of SARS-BLOCK.” 

The developers of the drug highlight that they modelled their approach by addressing the specific microbiological characteristics of the virus, rather than repurposing existing technology. As such, the compound is a new, specifically tailored response.

“The next step is for us to test SARS-BLOCK in animals and humans. If trials of SARS-BLOCK prove successful, we expect to move to mass market manufacturing within 18 months. Our innovative, distributed manufacturing process means we will be able to respond to global demand very quickly,” Watson said. 

“SARS-BLOCK has significant advantages over other vaccines and therapies in development. It was designed to neutralise SARS-CoV-2 at a genetic level and the results suggest it is effective at doing so. SARS-BLOCK is 100 percent room temperature stable and therefore can be easily deployed globally to any setting. We’re feeling very positive about both the cost and availability of the treatment,” said Adam Hamdy, a member of the company’s advisory board. 

The pre-print results can be found in bioRxiv