Pitt makes advancements with virus treatment

New Covid antibody test can handle larger number of donor samples

"The biomolecule is said to completely and specifically neutralize" SARS-CoV-2" virus and is prophylactic to treat and protect against the coronavirus. According to the scientists, the new antibody component, which is the smallest biological molecule, is reportedly 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), University of Columbia, University of Saskatchewan, and University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) already evaluated Ab8's effectiveness.

Scientists have been encouraged by trials that appear to have been "highly effective in preventing and treating" the SARS-CoV-2 infections in mice and hamsters.

Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on Tuesday said they're working on a drug they hope will both treat people with COVID-19 and prevent the disease in those who don't have it.

And since it does not bind to human cells, it is unlikely to produce side effects. "Large-sized antibodies are effective against other infectious diseases and we hope that this can become an effective treatment against corona", he said.

The tiny size of the antibody helps heighten its capacity to diffuse in tissues.

Alternatively, antibody domains and fragments such as fragment antigen binding (Fab), single-chain variable fragment (scFv), and heavy-chain variable domain (VH) are attractive formats for candidate therapeutics due to their low molecular mass (under 50 kDa).


Notably, researchers said that they are "thinking outside the box" in how the drug could be administered.

"Its small size might allow it to be given as an inhaled drug or intradermally, rather than intravenously through an IV drip, like most monoclonal antibodies now in development", the report says.

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

Dimitrov's team has since discovered antibodies that battle a host of other infectious diseases including MERS, dengue, Hendra and Nipah viruses. The antibody works by preventing spikes on the covid-19 virus from binding to human proteins, the scientists explained.

All noted how it appeared to stop the virus from entering cells.

Dr Dimiter Dimitrov, senior author of the paper and director of University of Pittsburgh's Center for Antibody Therapeutics, was one of the first to discover neutralising antibodies for the original Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2003. Even at the lowest dose, Ab8 causes a 10-fold decrease in the amount of infectious virus in the mice.

Mellors says, "The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge facing humanity, but biomedical science and human ingenuity are likely to overcome it..."

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