Munich: Scientists created a monoclonal antibody that can defeat the new coronavirus in the lab, an early but promising step in efforts to find treatments and curb the pandemic’s spread.
The experimental antibody may help prevent or treat Covid-19 and related diseases, either alone or in a drug combination, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Communications. More research is needed to see if the findings are confirmed in a clinical setting, Berend-Jan Bosch of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and colleagues wrote in the paper.
The antibody known as 47D11 targets the spike protein that gives the new coronavirus a crown-like shape and lets it enter human cells. In the Utrecht experiments, it didn’t just defeat the virus responsible for Covid-19 but also a cousin equipped with similar spike proteins, which causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
Monoclonal antibodies have sparked a treatment revolution in cancer, with medicines such as Merck & Co.’s Keytruda and Roche Holding AG’s Herceptin becoming some of the world’s best-sellers. AbbVie Inc.’s blockbuster inflammation treatment Humira is also part of the monoclonal antibody family.
“Monoclonal antibodies targeting vulnerable sites on viral surface proteins are increasingly recognized as a promising class of drugs against infectious diseases and have shown therapeutic efficacy for a number of viruses,” Bosch and colleagues wrote.
Two such antibody therapies show promise against Ebola. Companies such as Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. are also working on possible antibody treatments for the coronavirus. – Bloomberg