Scientists report that they have found an antibody that can block SARS-CoV-2 infections, according to Daily Mail.
SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus responsible for the current global pandemic and scientists believe that an antibody, called 47D11 can attack the "spike protein" which is what makes this coronavirus so deadly. This is what allows the virus to attach and invade cells to deliver its genetic material.
When tested on mice cells, 47D11 was able to bind to the protein and stop it from attaching itself, which neutralizes it.
This new information gives hope that a treatment can be found for this coronavirus, which is responsible for the death of over 235,000 people globally.
The antibody can change the “course of infection” or provide protection for uninfected people, according to researchers.
The antibody is able to target SARS-CoV-1, which was the cause of the SARS outbreak in 2003. But scientists say it is also able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2, of the same family.
Utrecht University Professor Berend-Jan Bosch is the co-lead author and says the research is a continuation from past work.
“This research builds on the work our groups have done in the past on antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV that emerged in 2002/2003,” he said
“Using this collection of SARS-CoV antibodies, we identified an antibody that also neutralizes infection of SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells.”
Antibodies are a protein that is made by the immune system and can attach themselves to antigens and remove them.
“Such a neutralizing antibody has potential to alter the course of infection in the infected host, support virus clearance or protect an uninfected individual that is exposed to the virus,” said Dr Bosch.
He added that the antibody may even be able to fight against future coronaviruses.
“The researchers in this study have developed an antibody that binds to the spike and blocks virus entry into cells,” said Dr Simon Clarke, a professor at University of Reading who specializes in Cellular Microbiology.
“Antibodies like this can be made in the lab instead of purified from people's blood and could conceivably be used as a treatment for disease, but this has not yet been demonstrated.”
“While it's an interesting development, injecting people with antibodies is not without risk and it would need to undergo proper clinical trials.”
Some of the research was done in cells outside of the animal, which is referred to as “in vitro” as opposed to inside a live organism — “in vivo.”
“There are several animal models of COVID-19 infection and without having results from any in vivo studies, it is not possible to conclude that the product will be effective in vivo in humans,” noted Dr Penny Ward who is a professor at King's College in Pharmaceutical Medicine.
“This potential would be greatly enhanced if antiviral effect was observed in an animal model.”
Natural antibodies are big proteins shaped like a Y that look for disease around the body.
The antibody—47D11—was made with H2L2 transgenic mouse technology from Harbour BioMed, a company based out of the US.
“Much more work is needed to assess whether this antibody can protect or reduce the severity of disease in humans,” said Dr Jingsong Wang, Harbour BioMed’s founder and CEO.
“We expect to advance development of the antibody with partners.”
“We believe our technology can contribute to addressing this most urgent public health need and we are pursuing several other research avenues.”