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19 May, 2020 12:20

17yo blood sample with SARS antibodies could be new secret weapon against CORONAVIRUS – study

17yo blood sample with SARS antibodies could be new secret weapon against CORONAVIRUS – study

Scientists have made a major breakthrough in the war against the coronavirus, discovering an antibody from a patient who recovered from SARS in 2003, which blocks Covid-19 infection while stopping the virus from mutating.

Scientists based in Switzerland and the United States examined 25 different types of antibodies, which each target different protein spikes on the virus, which it uses to infiltrate host cells and infect them with genetic material. From this list of antibodies, the researchers identified eight that could bind to both Covid-19 and the infected cells. 

One in particular – S309 – was shown to have “particularly strong neutralizing activity” when faced with Covid-19. When they combined S309 with other, less potent antibodies, the team found that they could limit its ability to mutate – though, for now at least, in a laboratory setting only.

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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, and the pathogen which causes Covid-19 are both coronaviruses, with similar origins (both believed to have originated in animals) and similar structures, though dramatically different consequences for humanity. 

Now, however, using antibodies from a survivor of the SARS outbreak which killed 774, the researchers believe they have a “proof-of-concept” for treating the coronavirus pandemic which has killed over 318,000 worldwide. 

“These results pave the way for using S309 and S309-containing antibody cocktails for prophylaxis in individuals at high risk of exposure or as a post-exposure therapy to limit or treat severe disease,” the researchers wrote.

The antibodies are now on a fast-track development and testing path at Vir Biotechnology to expedite their development for human testing. Vir Biotechnology, the company behind the study, specializes in combining immunology research and cutting-edge technologies with a focus on treating and curing infectious diseases. 

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“We still need to show that this antibody is protective in living systems, which has not yet been done,” says senior author David Veesler, assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

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