Reportedly, China's novel drug can treat and prevent COVID-19 infection
A team of scientists hailing from China claims to have developed a novel drug that can treat as well as prevent COVID-19 infection. They say that the medicine has proven successful in animal trials and could finally offer a way to end the pandemic that has swept across countries, killing more than 3 lakh people, over the last five months. Here's more about it.
Developed by China's Peking University, the drug in question has been created with 14 neutralizing antibodies isolated from the blood of 60 recovered COVID-19 cases. Sunney Xie, the Director of the university's Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, told AFP that the drug could shorten the recovery period of COVID-19 patients as well as give them short-term immunity to fight off the deadly disease.
Xie, whose work has been published in the journal Cell, said that early animal trials with the drug have shown promising results. "When we injected neutralizing antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500," he said, noting that the potential drug clearly has a therapeutic effect.
In addition to reducing viral load, the novel drug was also able to offer protection to the mice - when given before they contracted the coronavirus. This led Xie to suggest that the drug could offer weeks, perhaps even months, of immunity to its takers.
The development comes from the idea that antibodies or proteins generated by the immune system to fight off viruses like novel coronavirus could be used to treat infected COVID-19 patients. "Our expertise is single-cell genomics rather than immunology or virology," Xie said. "When we realized that the single-cell genomic approach can effectively find the neutralizing antibody [needed to fight the virus], we were thrilled."
Xie says they are preparing to conduct a clinical human trial of the drug in Australia and other countries and hoping to have it ready and approved for widespread public use later this year. "The hope is these neutralized antibodies can become a specialized drug that would stop the pandemic," which started spreading from China in December 2019.
The new drug comes as scientists across the world continue to race for a COVID-19 vaccine. So far, more than 100 candidate vaccines have been developed and about a dozen are in clinical trials. However, given that vaccine development is a more taxing process, Xie thinks this drug may offer a faster and more efficient way to deal with the ongoing health crisis.