Chinese scientists just isolated antibodies that can 'block' coronavirus
A team of Chinese scientists claims to have isolated a pair of antibodies that could 'block' the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19. They say that using the two proteins together could fast-track the development of anti-viral therapies as well as vaccine candidates needed to fight the ongoing public health crisis. Here's all you need to know about it.
In a study published in Science magazine, the researchers, hailing from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, detailed the two 'neutralizing antibodies' - B38 and H4. They found that the proteins can "bind to the glycoprotein spike" of the SARS-CoV-2 in such a way that the virus fails to enter the cells of the host and infect them.
The team isolated the antibodies from the blood plasma of a recovered COVID-19 patient and tested their effect on a mouse model. The work resulted in the reduction of virus titers or the quantity of virus, suggesting that a 'cocktail' of both antibodies may inform "the design of small molecule anti-virals and vaccine candidates" and help with the prevention/treatment of the deadly disease.
While plasma therapy, which involves bulk transfusion of antibodies from recovered patients, has shown promise in treating COVID-19 patients, isolating key antibodies could be more effective in developing a vaccine, anti-viral drug. This is because all the antibodies might not be able to fight off the virus, but if you pick select ones to carry out a targeted attack, the results will be better.
As of now, there is no word from the researchers on the clinical trials of the antibodies in question. Prior to this, Israel had also announced the isolation of a "monoclonal neutralizing antibody" but there is no clarity on when we might see a vaccine using it. Ron Malka, Israel's Ambassador to India, recently said they would share the antibody discovery once it's finalized.
The antibody developments come as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to grow worldwide. So far, over 43 lakh people have been infected by the virus while more than 2.97 lakh have passed away.