Adagio Therapeutics believes broadly neutralizing antibodies will offer best-in-class potency and coverage against SARS-CoV-2 and protection against future coronavirus outbreaks. Dr. Laura Walker, Adagio’s CSO, discusses her work at Scripps, Adimab, and now Adagio Therapeutics.
Over the past eight years, Adimab’s Antibody Science group, led by Laura Walker, Ph.D., has built one of the premier B cell cloning technologies. Her team has published extensively on a number of viral pathogens including RSV, Ebola, yellow fever, Zika, and most recently the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. In July, Adimab announced that it has spun off Adagio Therapeutics Inc., with Dr. Walker as a co-founder and its chief scientific officer. Adagio’s mission is to develop best-in-class antibodies that can broadly neutralize SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, and additional potentially emergent coronaviruses.
At this week’s Bioinsider Therapeutic Pipeline for COVID-19, virtual conference, Dr. Walker will bring her perspective to what promises to be a lively closing panel discussion. Dr. Emily Le spent some time with Dr. Walker to learn more about her new role at Adagio and how she sees the road ahead for this promising startup, which recently received $50M in Series A funding.
EL: Tell us about your background and current role?
LW: My background is in anti-viral antibody repertoires. I did my PhD at the Scripps Research Institute in Dennis Burton’s lab, where I studied broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV. I then moved on to Adimab, where I am currently the director of the Antibody Science Department. My group has studied antibody responses to many different viral pathogens, including Ebola, Zika, RSV, and SARS-CoV-2.
EL: What led to the formation of Adagio Therapeutics?
LW: We engineered an antibody with remarkable neutralization potency against all of the SARS-like coronaviruses we have tested to date. We are confident that this antibody will prove to be an effective therapy for the current pandemic as well as future outbreaks of novel SARS-related coronaviruses.
EL: Describe what you are working on now and how Adagio will help beat COVID-19?
LW: Right now, we are working on filing an IND to move the antibody into the clinic.
EL: What stage are you at with your candidate?
LW: We expect to be in Phase I by the end of this year or early next year.
EL: What was your thought process when making the decision of pivoting into COVID-19 treatment research? How do you compete with big pharma?
LW: We feel we have an antibody that is significantly differentiated from the other antibodies currently in clinical or pre-clinical development. We have compared our antibody side-by-side with most of the antibodies currently in clinical trials and it exhibits similar or better neutralization potency, similar or better developability properties (e.g. solubility at high concentration, polyreactivity, hydrophobicity, stability, etc), and it is the only one that is both potent and broadly neutralizing.
EL: If a COVID-19 therapy is being approved while you are still testing your candidate, will you stop working on it or continue the research?
LW: We will continue to develop our antibody for the reasons described above. We believe our antibody is the only option available for stockpiling for future outbreaks of related SARS viruses.
If you would like to hear Dr. Laura Walker live at the Therapeutic Pipeline for COVID-19 Virtual Meeting, register today with a 30% Discount Promo Code: interview30 (Apply before checkout).