Recently, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have discovered a biological molecule that they observed to have completely and specifically neutralized SARS-CoV-2, the virus that is responsible for the novel coronavirus.
Antibody against the COVID-19 virus?
The researchers' report published on Monday said the newly discovered antibody is ten times smaller than a regular full-sized antibody and was used in the production of the Ab8 drug. The scientists added that the drug is a potential preventative against the SARS-CoV-2.
According to Fox News, the report states that the drug was observed to be highly effective in preventing and treating the SARS-CoV-2 infections in both mice and hamster tests. The scientists also reported that the drug does not bind itself to human cells, removing the risks of potential side effects.
The chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Pitt and UPMC, John Mellors, who also co-authored the study, said that the Ab8 drug not only has a possibility to provide therapy for the COVID-19 virus but could also be used to prevent people from getting infected in the first place.
Mellors also said that larger antibodies have previously fought against several other infectious diseases and were well-tolerated. He added that the evidence gives them hope that the new drug could be a potential treatment for coronavirus-infected patients and protect people who have not been exposed to the virus yet.
The study's researchers are also thinking of unconventional methods on how the new drug could be administered, saying it could be inhaled or given through superficial injections rather than an IV.
The report states that a team from the University of Texas Medical Branch Center for Biodefense and Emerging Diseases and Galveston National Laboratory have tested that Ab8 drug.
The University of Texas team discovered that the drug could prevent the COVID-19 virus from entering cells. During trials with mice, the ones given the Ab8 drug had ten times less of the amount of infectious virus in their systems than untreated animals.
Similar antibody-drug trials
In a similar study, the Oxford-based Recovery Trial that previously found that steroids helped save several coronavirus patients' lives is planning to conduct a new and promising antibody combination treatment, as reported by The Guardian.
A group of patients will be joining the trials that will be conducted in most National Health Service (NHS) acute hospitals. The individuals will be randomly assigned to Regeneron's experimental drug, which they named REGN-COV2.
The new drug was created using a combination of two human neutralizing antibodies against the coronavirus. The pharmaceutical company was responsible for a previously developed antibody-drug that was designed to fight the Ebola virus.
The deputy chief investigator of the Recovery trial, Martin Landray, said that up until now, scientists have been focusing on studies that tackle whether existing drugs can be adjusted to help fight against the coronavirus.
Landray noted that the new drug trials are monumental steps forward with efforts to create a specific drug that would focus on the COVID-19 virus. He added that there is plenty of reasons for people to be excited about the current development.