An albumin-angiotensin converting enzyme 2-based SARS-CoV-2 decoy with FcRn-driven half-life extension

Elisabeth Fuchs, Imke Rudnik-Jansen, Anders Dinesen, Denis Selnihhin, Ole Aalund Mandrup, Kader Thiam, Jørgen Kjems, Finn Skou Pedersen, Kenneth A. Howard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

40 Downloads (Pure)


The emergence of new severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) mutants and breakthrough infections despite available coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines calls for antiviral therapeutics. The application of soluble angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as a SARS-CoV-2 decoy that reduces cell bound ACE2-mediated virus entry is limited by a short plasma half-life. This work presents a recombinant human albumin ACE2 genetic fusion (rHA-ACE2) to increase the plasma half-life by an FcRn-driven cellular recycling mechanism, investigated using a wild type (WT) albumin sequence and sequence engineered with null FcRn binding (NB). Binding of rHA-ACE2 fusions to SARS-CoV-2 spike protein subdomain 1 (S1) was demonstrated (WT-ACE2 KD = 32.8 nM and NB-ACE2 KD = 31.7 nM) using Bio-Layer Interferometry and dose-dependent in vitro inhibition of host cell infection of pseudotyped viruses displaying surface SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein. FcRn-mediated in vitro recycling was translated to a five times greater plasma half-life of WT-ACE2 (t½ β = 13.5 h) than soluble ACE2 (t½ β = 2.8 h) in humanised FcRn/albumin double transgenic mice. The rHA-ACE2-based SARS-CoV-2 decoy system exhibiting FcRn-driven circulatory half-life extension introduced in this work offers the potential to expand and improve the anti-COVID-19 anti-viral drug armoury. Statement of significance: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for rapid development of efficient antiviral therapeutics to combat SARS-CoV-2 and new mutants to lower morbidity and mortality in severe cases, and for people that are unable to receive a vaccine. Here we report a therapeutic albumin ACE2 fusion protein (rHA-ACE2), that can bind SARS-CoV-2 S protein decorated virus-like particles to inhibit viral infection, and exhibits extended in vivo half-life compared to ACE2 alone. Employing ACE2 as a binding decoy for the virus is expected to efficiently inhibit all SARS-CoV-2 mutants as they all rely on binding with endogenous ACE2 for viral cell entry and, therefore, rHA-ACE2 constitutes a versatile addition to the therapeutic arsenal for combatting COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Pages (from-to)411-418
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • ACE2
  • Albumin
  • COVID-19
  • Fusion protein
  • Half-life extension
  • Viral inhibitor


Dive into the research topics of 'An albumin-angiotensin converting enzyme 2-based SARS-CoV-2 decoy with FcRn-driven half-life extension'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this