In the latest scientific triumph to offer new insights into the immune system’s response to the coronavirus that’s on the cusp of sickening more than 30 million people worldwide, a team at the University of Pittsburgh has successfully isolated an “antibody component” to the virus in a breakthrough that, scientists say, could be used in a new therapeutic.
The University of Pittsburgh announced in a press release that students from its medical school had isolated the smallest biological molecule yet that “completely and specifically neutralizes” SARS-CoV-2.
According to the release, the antibody component, which is 10x smaller than a full-sized antibody, has been used to construct a drug – known as Ab8 – that will potentially be use as a therapeutic and prophylactic against the virus.
Findings from the study were published Tuesday in the journal Cell. In the abstract, the scientists said that the “Bivalent V-sub-H” showed a “high affinity” to bind to the cells of hamsters, preventing them from infection with SARS-CoV-2.
The finding could help Ab8 become a powerful therapeutic for COVID-19, as the administration takes heat for its unbridled – and, as some argued, premature – support for convalescent plasma, the world is looking for the next “hot” experimental therapeutic.
“Ab8 not only has potential as therapy for COVID-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said co-author John Mellors, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Pitt and UPMC. “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.”
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