Antibody that could neutralise coronavirus found by University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh researchers state they have found an antibody that ‘neutralizes’ COVID-19 virus

The UPMC doctors said the potential treatment involves an antibody molecule that neutralizes the virus that causes COVID-19. A bonus is that it does not bind to human cells, thereby avoiding unwanted side effects.

Ab8 completely neutralized SARS-CoV-2 in lab dishes.

They said the molecule is far smaller than a full-sized antibody, which could allow it to be inhaled or injected just below the skin rather than with standard injection or intravenously, which they said would be another advantage.

Abound Bio, a newly formed UPMC-backed company, has licensed Ab8 for worldwide development.

The antibody component used in Ab8 connected with all three spiky components on the coronavirus like a glob of putty on a set of keys, which can prevent the virus from breaking into cells, helping to account for the drug's potency and effectiveness with mutated versions of the coronavirus, according to information provided by the researchers.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine claimed that their discovery is a breakthrough when it comes to coronavirus' treatment and prevention.

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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". His team has since discovered antibodies that battle a host of other infectious diseases including MERS, dengue, Hendra and Nipah viruses.

They said the drug, which has yet to be tested on humans, wouldn't be available until sometime in 2021 at the earliest.

The antibody in Ab8 appears to be safe and is stable when produced, they said.

The research is done in conjunction with scientists from the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).

That small size "could improve therapeutic efficacy for infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 because of greater penetration to sites of infection", the researchers wrote in the study. The drug effectively inhibited the virus in lung tissue in a dose-dependent manner, with significant reduction of virus titer by tenfold, even at the lowest dose of 2 mg/kg, as compared to untreated controls, the researchers reported.

"The pandemic is a global challenge facing humanity, but biomedical science and human ingenuity are likely to overcome it", said Mellors, also Distinguished Professor of Medicine, who holds the Endowed Chair for Global Elimination of HIV and AIDS at Pitt.

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