A California biotech company, Sorrento Therapeutics, claims to have discovered an antibody that can block the novel coronavirus. Therefore, according to them, social distancing is no longer required.

As reported by Fox News, the San Diego-based company claims its STI-1499 antibody completely blocks the coronavirus from entering the body.

Vials with blood samples are pictured at a clinic providing testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and antibodies in Moscow
(Photo : REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)
Vials with blood samples are pictured at a clinic providing testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and antibodies, after authorities launched free mass screening for residents in the Russian capital, in Moscow, Russia May 15, 2020.

The company is waiting for consent from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after filing for an emergency use approval.

Sorrento said in a press statement that it could produce up to 200,000 doses a month while the drug may be available sooner than a COVID-19 vaccine.

After making the claims, stocks for Sorrento skyrocketed by 244%. Closing at $549 on Thursday, the company's market value soared on Friday's intraday high to around $1.9 billion.

Finally a cure? Biotech Company Claims They Have Found an Antibody That Blocks the Coronavirus 

Like several antibodies, STI-1499 is set to be included in a drug "cocktail" the company is working on with Mt Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Sorrento CEO Dr. Henry Ji stressed that "there is a cure" and a solution that completely works. This announcement comes on the same day when social distancing rules expire and many states begin to reopen.

Ji also told Fox that social distancing may no longer be needed if there is a "neutralizing antibody" in the body. He added that "you can open up a society without fear."

This would be a relief after the World Health Organization recently stated that the coronavirus may just become an endemic virus in communities, which would never go away. Experts have also already warned about the possibility of a second wave of infections once restrictions are lifted.

However, the antibody was only seen to work in human cells during lab tests has not yet been tested on humans. This questions the company's claim that the antibody has blocked the virus 100%. After all, there is still no data on how it might behave inside the human body and its potential side effects.

The antibody cure

The STI-1499 antibody is an immune cell that neutralizes pathogens and it is seen to have some effects on coronavirus. A combination of antibodies serves as a "protective shield" blocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the ACE2 receptor, a receptor on the surface of human cells which is the primary entry point to the body.

Ji also told Fox that they have seen in the laboratory how the antibody "wraps around the virus" then takes it away. He added that if the virus cannot get inside the cell, it cannot replicate or survive.

Numerous companies and universities worldwide have been exploring on finding the cure to the coronavirus, including the use of antibodies. Sorrento's drug is classified as "neutralizing" or binding antibodies, which fully bind to a certain part of the virus.

Human tests

While tests using blood plasma from recovered patients to treat COVID-19 patients have already begun, there is still no specific date when STI-1499 will be subjected to human trials.

Earlier this month, the FDA gave emergency approval to Remdesivir, an antiviral from Gilead Sciences, which showed slim but promising benefits for survival and recovery times after a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study. However, there is still no proven cure for the coronavirus.

As of Thursday, May 15, according to John Hopkins, there are now more than 4.5 million cases of coronavirus worldwide, in which over 1.46 million are from the US. The death toll in the US has now reached more than 87,000.

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