An antibody which may prevent SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the culprit that caused the current health crisis from infecting human cells, has been discovered by a group of scientists.
What was hailed as a "groundbreaking" discovery, could open more doors into discovering a treatment, cure or vaccine for the disease which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives. Researchers and scientists from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Harbour BioMed, and Erasmus Medical Center worked together and identified a method that can potentially neutralize COVID-19.
In their research which banked on previous researches about the coronavirus which causes SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, they found out that an antibody that prevents the SARS virus from infecting humans can also do the same to SARS-CoV-2.
The researchers tested a collection of antibodies present in cultured human cells. Based on their findings, one of these antibodies is able to bind with a specific part of the virus which is present in both the SARS virus and the novel coronavirus.
A Step Towards the Vaccine and Cure
According to the scientists, the discovery offers an initial step in the development of a fully human antibody which could either treat or prevent the disease which has infected millions and has took hundreds of thousands of lives.
In a statement by the co-lead author in the said study, Dr. Berend-Jan, he said that the neutralizing antibody has the potential to change the course of the infection on the host. He also added that the antibody supports virus clearance and can even protect an individual who has not been infected from contracting the virus.
On top of this, the other co-lead author of the study, Dr. Frank Grosveld stated that the discovery of the said antibody's capability is a strong foundation that can be used as additional research in developing a treatment for COVID-19.
In addition, he said that the antibody which was used was derived from a fully-human cultured cell which means that the development of would be more rapid. He also added that it can reduce the potential of side-effects related to the immune system.
Since it's fully-human, the antibody is different from conventional the therapeutic antibodies which are usually developed in other species such as lab rats before they are humanized and can be transmitted to people.
Race for the Cure
With the groundbreaking findings, the scientific community is one step closer to finding the cure or vaccine which can end this pandemic.
Based on previous outbreaks, it usually takes 10 to 15 years just to develop a vaccine.However, with this breakthrough we could only be a few years or months closer into ending this global health crisis.
The technology of our time has permitted the faster development of treatments and vaccines. For example, during the Ebola outbreak, it only took five years to develop a vaccine and according to the CEO of the global health partnership GAVI (Global Alliance For Vaccines and Immunization), Seth Berkley, he believes that that can be accelerated.