University of Pittsburgh Scientists Isolate Coronavirus Antibody In Breakthrough That Could Lead To New Treatment

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This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. Coronaviruses, including the newest one, are named for the spikes that cover their outer surface like a crown, or corona in Latin. Using those club-shaped spikes, the virus latches on to the outer wall of a human cell, invades it and replicates, creating viruses to hijack more cells. (NIAID/NIH via AP)

TJV News

A team at the University of Pittsburgh has successfully isolated an “antibody component” to the virus in a breakthrough that, scientists say, could be used in a new therapeutic.

The University of Pittsburgh announced in a press release that students from its medical school had isolated the smallest biological molecule yet that “completely and specifically neutralizes” SARS-CoV-2.

According to the release, the antibody component, which is 10x smaller than a full-sized antibody, has been used to construct a drug – known as Ab8 – that will potentially be use as a therapeutic and prophylactic against the virus.

In the abstract, the scientists said that the “Bivalent V-sub-H” showed a “high affinity” to bind to the cells of hamsters, preventing them from infection with SARS-CoV-2.

The finding could help Ab8 become a powerful therapeutic for COVID-19, as the administration takes heat for its unbridled – and, as some argued, premature – support for convalescent plasma, the world is looking for the next “hot” experimental therapeutic.

“Ab8 not only has potential as therapy for COVID-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said co-author John Mellors, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Pitt and UPMC. “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.”

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