Science & Technology

COVID-19: Do antibodies hold the key

Watch what new research in Israel, the Netherlands have come up with 

Published: Friday 08 May 2020

At least two different sets of research done in Israel and the Netherlands have shown that antibodies could play a vital role in curtailing the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has affected nearly four million people worldwide.

Antibodies are protective proteins that are produced by the immune system against foreign substances called antigens. They bind on to the intruding microbe to destroy it.

These antibodies, called monoclonal, can also be grown in the laboratory to mimic the ones produced within the body. Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) claimed that it isolated one such antibody that prevents the viral infection from spreading. 

Naftali Bennet, Israel's defence minister, said IIBR’s work was a ‘significant breakthrough’ to curb the infection spread. He added the antibody attacked and neutralised the virus ‘inside the carrier’. 

The research organisation added that the development is complete and that they were planning the manufaturing process.

But it did not specifically state whether they conducted human trials. Israel is also planning to shorten the regulatory approval process by several months to produce it on a mass scale.

IIBR was set up by the government to neutralise biological threats to Israel. 

Another research, conducted by scientists at Utrecht University, Erasmus Medical Center and biopharmaceutical company Harbour BioMed, claimed to have successfully stopped COVID-19 infections at a lab setting using monoclonal antibodies.

The scientists relied on antibodies created earlier during the SARS outbreak of 2002-04. They claimed it was the first step towards developing a fully human antibody that could be used stop the current pandemic.

The results of this research were published in journal Nature.

The breakthroughs with antibodies can be a potential weapon in the fight against COVID-19 till the time a vaccine is developed and wide-scale immunisation carried out. 

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