Scientists discover antibody that 'neutralizes' virus that causes coronavirus

Modesto Morganelli
Settembre 16, 2020

Scientists at Pitt's School of Medicine have successfully isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that completely and specifically neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19, the University announced Monday.

Ab8 has been highly effective in preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice and hamsters, researchers said. "RECOVERY will be the fourth late-stage randomised clinical trial evaluating REGN-COV2 and will add to our knowledge about how this novel antibody cocktail may help hospitalised patients in need", said George D Yancopoulos, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron, the biotech firm collaborating on the project.

"Today's news is another promising step in the search to find effective treatments, which will improve our ability to deal with this destructive virus, and a testament to the confidence that others around the world have in this brilliantly conceived and executed trial".

Scientists discovered a new antibody that could possibly neutralize COVID-19 by preventing it from entering the human cells.

John Mellors, who co-authored the report with Xianglei Liu of Pitt, said Ab8 could be useful to prevent COVID-19 infection in humans. Ab8 builds on the research of Dimiter Dimitrov, director of the Center.

What Do The Researchers Say About The Discovery Of The Antibody?

Like covid-19, SARS and MERS both are caused by various coronaviruses.

Moreover, the small size of ab8 (half of a full-size antibody) can be an advantage in that small quantities are needed to be effective.

Convalescent plasma - blood plasma taken from patients who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 and therefore contains anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies - is now being tested in clinical trials as a treatment for those battling COVID-19.

Mellors said the antibody is extremely potent; it appears to be long-lasting. It's also "fully human", he said.

The small antibody is the variable, heavy chain (VH) domain of an immunoglobulin, a kind of antibody usually found in the blood.

Those delivery methods include an injection under the skin or inhalation, he said.

The drug could be seen as a potential preventative against SARS-CoV-2 according to the researchers at UPMC. Vaccinations are more cost effective and able to be distributed across a population, he said. "The elderly can not generate, in general, a very good immune response", said Dr. Steven Shapiro, UPMC's chief medical and scientific officer - which means older adults and people who have compromised immune systems stand to gain the most from antibody therapies. "The antibody will provide that".

A team of scientists has met with great success. "A vaccine can not treat an established infection".

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