COVID-19: Scientists hail ‘groundbreaking’ human antibody discovery which prevents infection

Scientists have chanced on an antibody which prevents the coronavirus from infecting human cells in “groundbreaking research” which could possibly lead to the development of a vaccine, reported by skynews

The discovery could serve as the stepping stone to developing a fully-human antibody to treat or prevent the pandemic.

Testing a group of antibodies on cultured human cells, researchers stumbled on one which binds to a specific part which is present in both SARS and the virus causing COVID-19.

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“The 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,” said Dr Berend-Jan Bosch, co-lead author on the study.

Dr Frank Grosveld, the study’s other co-lead author, said “the discovery provided a strong foundation for additional research to characterise this antibody and begin development as a potential COVID-19 treatment”.

“The antibody used in this work is ‘fully human’, allowing development to proceed more rapidly and reducing the potential for immune-related side effects,” he added.

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The fully-human antibody is different from conventional therapeutic antibodies. The Conventional types are often first developed in other species before being “humanised” so they can be transferred to humans.

It was developed using Harbour BioMed’s H2L2 transgenic mouse technology – effectively a mouse which has been genetically engineered to contain human genes, enabling researchers to develop “human” antibodies without testing them on living people.

“This is groundbreaking research,” said Dr Jingsong Wang, the chief executive of HBM.

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