Scientists discovered a new antibody that could possibly neutralize COVID-19 by preventing it from entering the human cells. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine claimed that their discovery is a breakthrough when it comes to coronavirus’ treatment and prevention.
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They said that it is the world’s smallest biological molecule that neutralizes explicitly the SARS-CoV-2, which causes the novel coronavirus. The researchers used the tiny antibody, ten times smaller than a normal antibody, to develop a drug called “Ab8”–to be used against SARS-CoV-2 as a prophylactic and therapeutical medicine.
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Scientists administered the drug to hamsters and mice and found out that it is highly effective in preventing COVID-19 infections. Its tiny size allows it to pass through alternative routes inside the human body, including inhalation, making it more effective.
What’s more is that it does not bind to human cells, meaning the drug won’t negatively affect people. 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.
“Ab8 not only has potential as a therapy for COVID-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said M.D. John Mellors, study’s co-author and chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at UPMC and Pitt.
He added that larger antibodies have been effective against other infectious diseases, giving the world a hope that they could also cure and prevent COVID-19 infections.
The small antibody is the variable, heavy chain (VH) domain of an immunoglobulin, a kind of antibody usually found in the blood. The researchers found it among more than 100 billion possible candidates using the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as bait.
It was combined with part of the immunoglobulin tail area to create Ab8, without the bulk of a full-size antibody. However, it still has the same immune functions.
The researchers said that the medicine could be administered as an inhaled drug or intradermally because of its small size. Ab8 could have its worldwide development since it was already licensed by Abound Bio, a newly formed UPMC-backed company.
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Written by: Giuliano de Leon.