‘Potent’ antibody could completely neutralise coronavirus

By - World Healthcare Journal

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have isolated a tiny biological molecule which appears to fully neutralise and specifically target SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19.

This molecule has been used to synthesise a new drug called “Ab8” which could potentially be used as a therapeutic or prophylactic treatment for Covid-19.

The antibody works by preventing the SARS-CoV-2 virus from binding to human cells, stopping the virus from multiplying and spreading throughout the patient.

Although not a vaccine, Ab8 could work as a preventative treatment for Covid-19, which researchers say be effective for “weeks to months” or as a treatment for those already infected with the virus.

The researchers reported in the scientific journal Cell that the drug has proven to be highly effective in the treatment of Covid-19 infection in mice and hamsters. Furthermore, the minute scale of the molecule also enables various methods of administration, such as inhalation.

In addition, the molecule does not bind to human cells - meaning that it is unlikely to cause damaging or severe side-effects in humans.

Dimiter Dimitrov, senior author of the study and Director of the University of Pittsburgh Centre for Antibody Therapeutics, was elated at the discovery, describing it as “a golden moment in the life of scientists”.

“Ab8 not only has potential as a therapy for Covid-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said co-author Dr John Mellors M.D., chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC).

“Antibodies of larger size have worked against other infectious diseases and have been well-tolerated, giving us hope that it could be an effective treatment for patients with Covid-19 and for protection of those who have never had the infection and are not immune. ” 

Ab8 has been licensed for worldwide development by Abound Bio, a newly formed UPMC-backed company. Clinical trials are set to start in 2021 and require FDA approval, however, with the new coronavirus regulations in the US, the timeline for introducing potential treatments and vaccines into development is far quicker.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge facing humanity, but biomedical science and human ingenuity are likely to overcome it,” Mellors said. “We hope that the antibodies we have discovered will contribute to that triumph. ”

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