Health Care

Scientists isolate tiny antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2

Scientists isolate tiny antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2”

A team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has isolated a component of a human antibody that other universities showed can neutralize COVID-19 in animals, according to a news release from the school.

This molecule is ten times smaller than a full-sized antibody.

With those results in hand, Dr Ralph Baric and his University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), US. colleagues tested Ab8 at varying concentrations in mice using a modified version of SARS-CoV-2.

Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on Tuesday said they're working on a drug they hope will both treat people with COVID-19 and prevent the disease in those who don't have it. This is good because it means that it will not have negative side-effects in humans.

The researchers said that the medicine could be administered as an inhaled drug or intradermally because of its small size.

'Antibodies of larger size have worked against other infectious diseases and have been well tolerated, giving us hope that it could be an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19 and for protection of those who have never had the infection and are not immune'. They are better able to penetrate tissues and have faster clearance rates compared to full-size antibodies, while maintaining high stability and affinity to antigens.

Alternatively, antibody domains and fragments such as fragment antigen binding (Fab), single-chain variable fragment (scFv), and heavy-chain variable domain (VH) are attractive formats for candidate therapeutics due to their low molecular mass (under 50 kDa).

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"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", the report says.

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.

Ab8 could have its worldwide development since it was already licensed by Abound Bio, a newly formed UPMC-backed company.

At very low concentrations, Ab8 completely blocked the virus from entering cells.

"The new trial will tell us whether antibodies that attack the virus can be an effective treatment for COVID-19", she said. In mice trials, those treated with Ab8 had 10-fold less of the amount of infectious virus compared to those that were untreated.

John Mellors, who co-authored the report with Xianglei Liu of Pitt, said Ab8 could be useful to prevent COVID-19 infection in humans.

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