Hailed as "Groundbreaking" by Scientists
A Dutch-led team of researchers made headlines around the world this week with the news that they have discovered a human antibody that can block the coronavirus. The discovery has been hailed as "groundbreaking" by media outlets and seen by scientists as an "initial step" in the fight against COVID-19. The research was published in the Nature Communications journal on Monday.
Researchers from Utrecht University, Erasmus Medical Center and Harbour BioMed (HBM) reported that they have identified a fully human monoclonal antibody that prevents the virus from infecting cultured cells.
The antibody used in the work is described as "fully human", allowing development to proceed more rapidly and reducing the potential for immune-related side effects. Conventional therapeutic antibodies are first developed in other species and then must undergo additional work to "humanise" them. The antibody was generated using Harbour BioMed’s H2L2 transgenic mouse technology, Utrecht University said on its website.
“This research builds on the work our groups have done in the past on antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV that emerged in 2002/2003,” said Berend-Jan Bosch, Associate Professor, Research leader at Utrecht University, and co-lead author of the study. “Using this collection of SARS-CoV antibodies, we identified an antibody that also neutralises infection of SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells. Such a neutralising antibody has the potential to alter the course of infection in the infected host, support virus clearance or protect an uninfected individual that is exposed to the virus.”
“This is groundbreaking research,” said Dr Jingsong Wang, Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of HBM. “Much more work is needed to assess whether this antibody can protect or reduce the severity of disease in humans. We expect to advance development of the antibody with partners. We believe our technology can contribute to addressing this most urgent public health need and we are pursuing several other research avenues.”
by Anesca Smith