An ACE2 decoy can be administered by inhalation and potently targets omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2

Lianghui Zhang, Krishna K. Narayanan, Laura Cooper, Kui K. Chan, Savanna S. Skeeters, Christine A. Devlin, Aaron Aguhob, Kristie Shirley, Lijun Rong, Jalees Rehman, Asrar B. Malik, Erik Procko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Monoclonal antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) neutralize infection and are efficacious for the treatment of COVID-19. However, SARS-CoV-2 variants, notably sublineages of B.1.1.529/omicron, have emerged that escape antibodies in clinical use. As an alternative, soluble decoy receptors based on the host entry receptor ACE2 broadly bind and block S from SARS-CoV-2 variants and related betacoronaviruses. The high-affinity and catalytically active decoy sACE22.v2.4-IgG1 was previously shown to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants when administered intravenously. Here, inhalation of aerosolized sACE22.v2.4-IgG1 increased survival and ameliorated lung injury in K18-hACE2 mice inoculated with P.1/gamma virus. Loss of catalytic activity reduced the decoy's therapeutic efficacy, which was further confirmed by intravenous administration, supporting dual mechanisms of action: direct blocking of S and turnover of ACE2 substrates associated with lung injury and inflammation. Furthermore, sACE22.v2.4-IgG1 tightly binds and neutralizes BA.1, BA.2, and BA.4/BA.5 omicron and protects K18-hACE2 mice inoculated with a high dose of BA.1 omicron virus. Overall, the therapeutic potential of sACE22.v2.4-IgG1 is demonstrated by the inhalation route and broad neutralization potency persists against highly divergent SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere16109
JournalEMBO Molecular Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 8 2022


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme 2
  • decoy
  • omicron
  • receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine


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