Scientists find antibody that inhibits novel coronavirus by up to 98% (2020/06/03)

Taiwan scientists have found an antibody that works against all four major coronavirus strains, inhibiting them by 90 to 98%. They believe the antibody can be developed into a treatment for COVID-19. The research team at Chang Gung University is seeking private sector partners for further testing and development. They're looking to transfer the technology to partner companies as early as June.

Medical technologists put on protective gear before they enter this lab at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. In April, a team of scientists identified 25 monoclonal antibodies in patients infected with COVID-19. During lab experiments, one proved more potent than the rest. This antibody was able to prevent the novel coronavirus from entering human cells, according to Shih Shin-ru, director of the Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections at Chang Gung University. It was able to inhibit the virus by 90 to 98%.

Shih Shin-ru
Chang Gung University researcher
We can use this antibody as a detection purpose or therapeutic purpose. Because the antibody can inhibit the invasion, so we can use treatment purpose because if we inject antibody into the patient, it stops virus go further to amplify in another cell.

Scientists found that this antibody worked against all four major strains of the novel coronavirus. These are the Chinese strain, the U.S. strain, the strain dominant in Europe, and one from Egypt.

Huang Chiung-kuei
Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital
It showed very good inhibitory effects against the Wuhan strain and the strain from Europe, United States and Egypt. The effect reached 90 to 98%.

Researchers believe this antibody is a prime candidate for COVID treatment development. Because it is part of the body’s natural defense system, a drug made with this antibody has the potential to be safer than other types of treatment.

Yang Cheng-ta
Linkou Chang Gung Hospital
This antibody is made from antibodies that the body naturally produces. So in the future if used as treatment, not only is it specialized, it will not affect normal cells. It is safer than therapies that use animal antibodies.

Researchers say that antibody drugs tend to be fairly safe and to cause relatively few side effects. They also take less time to develop into a viable product. A patent is pending on this key antibody. Scientists hope to transfer the technology to the private sector as early as June.