Towards Antibodies to Covid-19 – Health

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The lab of Xavier Saelens (VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology) has isolated an antibody that can bind to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The researchers determined that the antibody binds to a portion of the ‘spike protein’ that the virus uses to invade human cells.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the search for antibodies has continued unabated. The team of Prof. Xavier Saelens, in collaboration with the lab of Jason McLellan (University of Texas at Austin, USA), isolated a small antibody from the Flemish llama Winter (an animal that lives with 130 peers on a farm in the province of Anwterpen lives), found to bind to a significant portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Their findings show exactly where the antibody binds to the spike proteins of the virus. These proteins are vital to the virus because they allow it to enter host cells (in this case human cells). By binding to these proteins, the antibody can defuse the virus. This is an important step in the search for an antiviral against covid-19.

An important step towards protection

These new results provide the first evidence that the antibody may be able to prevent the new coronavirus from infecting human cells. Importantly, the antibody can also be widely produced using production processes common in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Compared to vaccines, an antibody provides immediate protection – but of a shorter duration. The advantage of this approach over vaccines is that patients do not have to make their own antibodies. The most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, often show only a limited response to vaccines, so that their protection is not optimal. Healthcare providers and other people at risk may also benefit from immediate protection. Thus, an antibody can be an important tool in fighting the current pandemic.

The VIB researchers are now preparing a preclinical test phase for treatment of the coronavirus. While these early results are promising, further research is needed to confirm the full potential of this antibody-based drug against covid-19.

Ask?

A breakthrough in research does not mean the same as a breakthrough in medicine. The achievements of VIB researchers can form the basis for new therapies, but the development process can sometimes take a long time. If you have any questions about this and other medically oriented research, you can ask them by email: [email protected]

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the search for antibodies has continued unabated. The team of Prof. Xavier Saelens, in collaboration with the lab of Jason McLellan (University of Texas at Austin, USA), isolated a small antibody from the Flemish llama Winter (an animal that lives with 130 peers on a farm in the province of Anwterpen lives), found to bind to a significant portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Their findings show exactly where the antibody binds to the spike proteins of the virus. These proteins are vital to the virus because they allow it to enter host cells (in this case human cells). By binding to these proteins, the antibody can defuse the virus. This is an important step in the search for an antiviral against covid-19. These new results provide the first evidence that the antibody may be able to prevent the new coronavirus from infecting human cells. Importantly, the antibody can also be widely produced using production processes common in the biopharmaceutical industry. Compared to vaccines, an antibody provides immediate protection – but of a shorter duration. The advantage of this approach over vaccines is that patients do not have to make their own antibodies. The most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, often show only a limited response to vaccines, so that their protection is not optimal. Healthcare providers and other people at risk may also benefit from immediate protection. Thus, an antibody may be an important tool in fighting the current pandemic. VIB researchers are now preparing a preclinical test phase for treatment of the coronavirus. While these initial results are promising, further research is needed to confirm the full potential of this antibody-based drug against covid-19.

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