Broadly neutralizing aptamers to SARS-CoV-2: A diverse panel of modified DNA antiviral agents.
Gelinas AD., Tan TK., Liu S., Jaramillo JG., Chadwick J., Harding AC., Zhang C., Ream BE., Chase CN., Otis MR., Lee T., Schneider DJ., James WS., Janjic N.
Since its discovery, COVID-19 has rapidly spread across the globe and has had a massive toll on human health, with infection mortality rates as high as 10%, and a crippling impact on the world economy. Despite numerous advances, there remains an urgent need for accurate and rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests and better therapeutic treatment options. To contribute chemically distinct, non-protein-based affinity reagents, we report here the identification of modified DNA-based aptamers that selectively bind to the S1, S2, or receptor-binding domain of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein. Several aptamers inhibit the binding of the spike protein to its cell-surface receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and neutralize authentic SARS-CoV-2 virus in vitro, including all variants of concern. With a high degree of nuclease resistance imparted by the base modifications, these reagents represent a new class of molecules with potential for further development as diagnostics or therapeutics.