A team of European scientists has discovered what it says is the antibody that blocks infection by SARS-CoV-2.
SARS-CoV-2 is the virus behind the coronavirus which has killed thousands and infected millions globally.
According to the scientists the antibody, known as 47D11, targets the virus’ infamous ‘spike protein’, and uses it to hook onto cells and insert its genetic material.
The scientists tested this in mice cells which showed that 47D11 binds to this protein and prevents it from hooking on – effectively neutralising the virus.
The researchers believe the antibody, if injected into humans, could protect an uninfected person exposed to someone with the virus as well as alter the cause of infection in patients.
With this major breakthrough there is hope of a better treatment for COVID-19.
The antibody was however used on the novel coronavirus that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak, known as SARS-CoV-1.
But the scientists say it should also be able to neutralise SARS-CoV-2 since they are both from the same family of coronaviruses.
Co-lead author of the research, Professor Berend-Jan Bosch at Utrecht University said “This research builds on the work our groups have done in the past on antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV that emerged in 2002/2003.”
“Using this collection of SARS-CoV antibodies, we identified an antibody that also neutralises infection of SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells,” Bosch added.
Bosch also said “Such a neutralising antibody has 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.”
Daily Mail quoted Dr Simon Clarke, professor of Cellular Microbiology at University of Reading, who wasn’t involved in the study as saying that “Antibodies like this can be made in the lab instead of purified from people’s blood and could conceivably be used as a treatment for disease, but this has not yet been demonstrated.
‘While it’s an interesting development, injecting people with antibodies is not without risk and it would need to undergo proper clinical trials.”