University of Pittsburgh scientists discover antibody that 'neutralizes' virus that causes coronavirus

New Covid antibody test can handle larger number of donor samples

Researchers have isolated a tiny antibody component that can neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 virus and used it to construct a drug for potential use as a therapeutic and prophylactic against COVID-19.

The drug's foundation is a tiny but potent antibody that can block the virus from infecting cells.

The findings of were published in the journal Cell. Human clinical trials could begin in early 2021.

At a news conference Tuesday, UPMC officials said the drug will be especially helpful to vulnerable patients who wouldn't respond as well to a vaccine, such as the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.

Mellors added: "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".

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"The new trial will tell us whether antibodies that attack the virus can be an effective treatment for COVID-19", she said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge facing humanity, but biomedical science and human ingenuity are likely to overcome it", Mellors commented. Ab8 builds on the research of Dimiter Dimitrov, director of the Center. This corresponds to the specificity of an antibody molecule towards a particular virus. Like covid-19, SARS and MERS both are caused by various coronaviruses.

A biological molecule of an existing antibody was used to create the drug Ab8, which scientists believe has the potential to prevent people from becoming infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19), while also treating those already infected, the Pitt Wire reported. REGN-COV2 is now being studied in two Phase 2/3 clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19 and in a Phase 3 trial for the prevention of COVID-19 in household contacts of infected individuals.

Experts said that it was selected in part based on its emerging safety profile in humans, pre-clinical data showing it could protect against viral escape mutations, and prevention and treatment studies in non-human primates showing it reduced the amount of virus and associated damage in the lungs. It can be through inhalation or via superficial injection, not necessarily be an IV. The drug is seen as a potential preventative against SARS-CoV-2. Vaccinations are more cost effective and able to be distributed across a population, he said. Scientists worldwide are racing to produce a safe and effective vaccine. He said he hopes the development of Ab8 and other antibodies will have lasting benefits for scientists, making them "armed and ready" for any virus that could cause a pandemic in the future.

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