A team of Chinese scientists has identified several antibodies that it says are “highly effective” in blocking the new coronavirus ‘ability to invade cells, which may eventually be helpful in the treatment or prevention of COVID 19.
There is actually no proven effective cure for the disease originating in China and spreading worldwide in a pandemic that has infected over 850,000 and killed 42,000 people. Zhang Linqi at Tsinghua University in Beijing said that a drug made with antibodies such as those found by his team could be used more efficiently than existing methods, like what he called “borderline” therapy like plasma.
In January, Zhang’s team and a group at Shenzhen’s 3rd People’s Hospital started examining blood-taking antibodies. This is from recovered COVID-19 patients, isolating 206 monoclonal antibodies. It demonstrated what he identified as a “solid” ability to bind to the proteins of the virus. We then did another check to see whether we could potentially prevent. This virus stops from reaching cells, he said in an interview with Reuters.
Antibodies Minimize Risk of Mutating the COVID-19
Four of the first 20 or so antibodies tested were able to block viral entry. Two of them were “exceedingly fine” to do so, Zhang said. The team is now focused on finding and probably combining the most potent antibodies. This is to minimize the risk of mutating the new coronavirus. If all goes well, they could be mass-produced by interested developers. This is for research, first on animals and then on humans.
The antibodies are not a vaccine, but may theoretically be given. This is to people at risk in order to prevent themselves from contracting COVID-19. It usually takes about two years for a medication to get close to patient approval. But the COVID-19 pandemic means things are going quicker, he said. This is with steps that should have been taken sequentially now being conducted in parallel.
Zhang, who posted the results online, hopes they can check the antibodies on humans within six months. When they show successful in trials, so it takes longer to legally use them for diagnosis. Some experts are urging caution.