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Dutch research team first to discover Covid-19 antibodies

The first drug capable of attacking and neutralizing the Coronavirus could be ready for experimentation after a group of Dutch researchers discovered an antibody.

Published: March 15, 2020, 7:34 am

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    A team of ten scientific researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and Utrecht University say they are the first in the world to discover an antibody capable of fighting off an infection by the Covid-19 variant of Coronavirus.

    The research is ready and will be evaluated by the journal Nature. These monoclonal antibodies may be used in the first drug in the world that specializes in detecting and preventing the Coronavirus infection. A first brief announcement for the study was published on the BioRxiv website.

    The Erasmus Magazine reports, however, that it will take time before seeing this new defense in the hands of doctors.

    The scientific magazine noted how the antibody has yet to “be tested on humans and research peer reviewed or published by Nature“. It is therefore probable that the world will have to wait a few more months before seeing the new drug in action.

    Cellular biology professor Frank Grosveld, who is part of the research team, explained: “We are now trying to involve a pharmaceutical company capable of producing the antibody on a large scale. Before being commercialized, however, the antibody must go through a phase of long development and be tested for its pharmacological properties.”

    The pharmaceutical company contacted by Grosveld and his team appears to be interested in the discovery.

    The group of Dutch researchers who discovered what could be the definitive Coronavirus drug is led by Chinese researcher Chunyan Wang. It would have the ability to attack and neutralize the virus that is causing thousands of victims worldwide.

    It is a monoclonal antibody, capable of recognizing the protein that acts on the human organism by infecting it. The antibody has the ability to bind to the aforementioned protein and, consequently, is able to prevent the virus from connecting to the respiratory cells.

    This process therefore prevents the penetration of the virus. This drug has been officially defined by researchers as pivotal “for the treatment and prevention of Covid-19”.

    The discovery could lead to an antiviral medication, and the ability for people to test themselves at home for the presence of the virus.

    “As far as we know, this is the very first antibody that blocks the infection,” Grosveld explained to the magazine. “Finding something like this is very rare,” told Erasmus Magazine and when congratulated with their findings, he added: “I am too old to jump on a table.”

    “Here we report a human monoclonal antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 (and SARS-CoV),” the researchers state in their academic paper’s abstract. This is the SARS-2 virus, which causes Coronavirus induced disease 19, or Covid-19 for short.

    The groups of scientists maintain that the antibody they found “neutralizes” the virus, and “offers the potential to prevent and/or treat COVID-19, and possibly also other future emerging diseases in humans caused by viruses from the Sarbecovirus subgenus”.

    Their research could lead to a medicine rather than a vaccine, to be developed much faster than a vaccine. It would also be more expensive to produce than a vaccine.

    “We are now trying to get a pharmaceutical company on board – which is looking promising, by the way – that can produce the antibody on a large scale as a medicine,” Grosveld said.

    “If you were to take this as a patient, it is expected – only an expectation right now – that the infection will be stopped. And so it can give the patient an opportunity to recover,” he told the magazine.

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