Pitt Researchers Say Antibody Blocks Coronavirus Infection

Regeneron's antibody drug added to UK Recovery trial of COVID treatments

Researchers claim to have isolated "the smallest biological molecule" that "completely and specifically neutralizes" the virus that causes coronavirus.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine discover an antibody component that is 10 times smaller than an original antibody molecule.

The research is done in conjunction with scientists from the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).

According to the report, the drug has been "highly effective in preventing and treating" the SARS-CoV-2 infections in mice and hamsters during tests.

The drug could be seen as a potential preventative against SARS-CoV-2 according to the researchers at UPMC. Its small size also makes it easy to administer through inhalation.

He added that larger antibodies have been effective against other infectious diseases, giving the world a hope that they could also cure and prevent COVID-19 infections.

It doesn't bind to human cells but only to virus cells thus eliminating any side effects.

The antibody component is the variable, heavy chain (VH) domain of an immunoglobulin.

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When the VH component of an antibody fuses with the tail region of the immunoglobulin, the drug Ab8 produced.

Its small size might allow it to be given as an inhaled drug or intradermally, rather than intravenously through an IV drip, like most monoclonal antibodies now in development.

A UPMC-backed company called Abound Bio has licensed Ab8, for worldwide development.

Dimitrov's team has since discovered antibodies that battle a host of other infectious diseases including MERS, dengue, Hendra and Nipah viruses.

Hospital Services Supervisor Jennifer Crane locates a convalescent plasma sample with COVID-19 antibodies in freezer storage while preparing it for shipment to a local hospital at the Bloodworks Northwest Laboratory during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Renton, Washington, U.S. September 9, 2020. They found that ab8 blocked the virus from entering cells, outperforming the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor for binding to the RBD.

Dimiter Dimitrov, director of Pitt's Center for Antibody Therapeutics, describes this discovery of the antibody effect on the coronavirus as a "golden moment" in the life of scientist. The rodents that were treated with the drug had significantly less (10-fold less of the amount) of infectious virus compared to those that were not treated.

"The Covid-19 pandemic is a global challenge facing humanity, but biomedical science and human ingenuity are likely to overcome it", said Dr Mellors, also Distinguished Professor of Medicine, who holds the Endowed Chair for Global Elimination of HIV and AIDS at UPMC.

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