Researchers detect HERV-W ENV in all COVID-19 patients they tested and link expression level to disease severity



A new research published in April 2021 in the Lancet’s EBioMedicine shows that the pathogenic envelope protein of the human endogenous retrovirus W (HERV-W ENV) is found on lymphocytes of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The researchers also found that the level of expression of HERV-W ENV is associated with disease severity. 

Because of HERV-W ENV’s pro-inflammatory properties, it is believed it could act as an “accelerant” of the activation of the innate immune system, fueling the severity of COVID-19 evolution and impacting long term recovery.

Preliminary data available on Research Square also shows HERV-W ENV expression in lymphocytes following in vitro exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in about 20% of healthy blood donors, suggesting individual susceptibility. 

With HERVs as a possible aggravating agent of COVID-19, GeNeuro’s temelimab, an anti-HERV-W ENV monoclonal antibody already in Phase II clinical trials with an excellent tolerability and safety, could, without any prejudice to its existing programs, start clinical trials against COVID-19 as early as this summer.



As the leader in the HERV field and with HERV-W ENV as a possible aggravating agent of COVID-19, GeNeuro has started working with leading medical centers in Europe and the USA to evaluate temelimab as a therapeutic treatment, both to prevent immune system hyper-activation in recently infected patients, as well as to tackle severe neurological and psychiatric syndromes in long-COVID patients