Cures and vaccines that can work against the SARS-CoV-2 virus or the novel coronavirus are still under human clinical trials. Unfortunately, these cures will not be released until later this year or 2021, so scientists are still looking for anything that could help beat this health crisis we're still facing today.
Among the possible cures, they are currently studying are antibodies acquired from recovered COVID-19 patients.
Antibody from a Former SARS Patient
However, in a new study from a biotech company, it seems like an antibody against SARS-CoV-2 has been discovered in a person that once suffered and recovered from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) 17 years ago.
According to a report by LiveScience, they were able to find the antibody through a blood sample from the former SARS patient.
Some of the researchers involved in the study were from Vir Biotechnology, which is working on a therapeutic based on the study's findings.
Working with the company in the study is the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Antibodies form as part of the body's immune system response to various pathogens. When the same pathogen attacks the body in the future, these antibodies could neutralize them and render them useless.
Antibody S309 Against the Novel Coronavirus
This specific antibody from the SARS patient is being called S309 by the researchers, and according to their study, which has been published in Nature, it shows a strong ability to bind with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
By binding with the virus, the antibody disables the pathogen's protein spike, which it uses to latch onto a healthy cell and attack it, and by disabling the virus, it won't be able to replicate and can prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
The authors wrote in their paper that the antibody could prevent SARS-CoV-2 either by itself or as a part of an "antibody cocktail," which works by mixing S309 with weaker antibodies against the coronavirus.
In addition, further study suggests that the antibody S309 binds to a specific site in the virus that is conserved across various other coronaviruses, which likely explains why it can work on both the SARS and COVID-19 viruses.
More Research Needed
Nevertheless, the study is only done in a laboratory setting, and further research and trial are needed to ensure that the antibody could be used against the novel coronavirus.
"We still need to show that this antibody is protective in living systems, which has not yet been done," said David Veesler, an assistant professor of biochemistry in the University of Washington School of Medicine and one of the senior authors of the study.
The researcher also said that as of now, there are no licensed therapeutics and approved tools that can work against SARS-CoV-2, and if antibody S309 proves to be useful, it could be a part of the pandemic armamentarium.
Although Vir Biotechnology is not the only one working on antibodies, they were able to move forward faster than other companies because of the origin of the antibody.
Two drug candidates that are genetically engineered versions of the antibody S309 are expected to begin clinical trials this summer.
It will be conducted with the help of GlaxoSmithKline.