Super-potent human antibodies against COVID-19

Super-potent human antibodies protect against COVID-19 in animal tests: Scientists isolate powerful coronavirus-neutralizing antibodies from COVID-19 patients and successfully test in animals — ScienceDaily – June 15, 2020

Here’s a promising avenue: using antibodies from people who overcame and recovered from COVID as a prophylactic for others.

A team led by Scripps Research has discovered antibodies in the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients that provide powerful protection against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease, when tested in animals and human cell cultures.

In principle, injections of such antibodies could be given to patients in the early stage of COVID-19 to reduce the level of virus and protect against severe disease.  

The antibodies also may be used to provide temporary, vaccine-like protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection for healthcare workers, elderly people and others who respond poorly to traditional vaccines or are suspected of a recent exposure to the coronavirus.

An approach that’s worked for other deadly viruses

Developing a treatment or vaccine for severe COVID-19 is currently the world’s top public health priority.

One approach to new viral threats is to identify, in the blood of recovering patients, antibodies that neutralize the virus’s ability to infect cells.

These antibodies can then be mass-produced, using biotech methods, as a treatment that blocks severe disease and as a vaccine-like preventive that circulates in the blood for several weeks to protect against infection.

This approach already has been demonstrated successfully against Ebola virus and the pneumonia-causing respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV.

Potent patient antibodies block the virus

For the new project, Rogers and his UC San Diego colleagues took blood samples from patients who had recovered from mild-to-severe COVID-19.

In parallel, scientists at Scripps Research and IAVI developed test cells that express ACE2, the receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to get into human cells. In a set of initial experiments, the team tested whether antibody-containing blood from the patients could bind to the virus and strongly block it from infecting the test cells.

The scientists were able to isolate more than 1,000 distinct antibody-producing immune cells, called B cells, each of which produced a distinct anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody.

The team obtained the antibody gene sequences from these B cells so that they could produce the antibodies in the laboratory.

By screening these antibodies individually, the team identified several that, even in tiny quantities, could block the virus in test cells, and one that could also protect hamsters against heavy viral exposure.

If further safety tests in animals and clinical trials in people go well, then conceivably the antibodies could be used in clinical settings as early as next January, the researchers say.

In the course of their attempts to isolate anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies from the COVID-19 patients, the researchers found one that can also neutralize SARS-CoV, the related coronavirus that caused the 2002-2004 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Asia

“Rapid isolation of potent SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies and protection in a small animal model” was co-authored by 30 scientists.

I think it’s a spectacular success that scientists from different areas (locations as well as specialties) were able to coordinate their efforts so quickly thanks to the Internet.

I believe it’s science that will find us a way out of the doomsday scenarios being promoted by mainstream media, which is just trying to tempt us to “click” with scary and exaggerated headlines.

Journal Reference:
Isolation of potent SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies and protection from disease in a small animal model. Science, June 15, 2020; DOI: 10.1126/science.abc7520

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