Not a vaccine, this Chinese scientist found useful antibodies to treat coronavirus

Not a vaccine, this Chinese scientist found useful antibodies to treat coronavirus - The Chinese team of scientists has isolated several antibodies, which are said to be very useful in blocking the ability of the new coronavirus to enter cells. This is believed to ultimately be able to help treat or prevent COVID-19.

Launch of Reuters, until now, no treatment has proven effective for diseases that originated in China and spread throughout the world. This pandemic has infected more than 850,000 people and killed 42,000 people.

Zhang Linqi from Tsinghua University in Beijing said drugs made with antibodies such as those found by his team could be used more effectively than the current approach, including what he called "borderline" treatments such as plasma.

Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Plasma contains antibodies but is restricted by blood type.

In early January, Zhang's team and a group at 3rd People's Hospital in Shenzhen began analyzing antibodies from blood taken from recovered COVID-19 patients, isolating 206 monoclonal antibodies that showed what he described as a "strong" ability to bind to a protein virus.

They then conducted another test to see if they could actually prevent the virus from entering the cell, he told Reuters in an interview.

"Of the first 20 or more antibodies tested, four of them were able to block virus entry, and two of them were very good at doing so," Zhang said.

The team is now focused on identifying the most potent antibodies and possibly combining them to reduce the risk of new coronavirus mutations.

If all goes well, interested developers can mass produce it for testing, first in animals, and finally in humans.

"This group has partnered with the Sino-US biotech company, Brii Biosciences, to advance several candidates for prophylactic and therapeutic interventions," said a statement released by Brii.

Zhang explained, the importance of antibodies has been proven in medicine for decades. "They can be used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases," he added.

These antibodies are not vaccines but can potentially be given to people at risk to prevent them from contracting COVID-19.

Usually, it takes about two years for a drug to even get approval to be used on patients. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, everything moved faster. If the previous steps are to be taken sequentially, now everything is being done in parallel.

Zhang hopes antibodies can be tested in humans in six months. If they are proven effective in trials, the actual use for treatment will take longer.

Meanwhile, other experts urge caution.

"There are several steps that must now be followed before it can be used as a treatment for coronavirus patients," said Hong Kong University infectious disease specialist Ben Cowling when the findings were explained to him by Reuters.

"But it is exciting to find this potential treatment, and then have the opportunity to test it. Because if we can find more candidates, then, in the end, we will get better results, "said Cowling.

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