Human SARS antibody could pave the way towards a COVID-19 cure

Grant Boone
May 21, 2020

They experimented with 25 different types of antibodies - which target specific protein spikes on viruses - to see if they could prevent cells becoming infected with Covid-19.

This study was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Pew Biomedical Scholars Award, Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, University of Washington Arnold and Mabel Beckman cryoEM Center, the Pasteur Institute, and the beamline at the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory.

It comes as scientists at a California biotech company claim to have found an antibody that completely blocks the virus. "These findings are really good news for vaccine development." he further explained.

By understanding the crystal structure of S309, the scientists demonstrated how the antibody binds to the viral spike protein, which aids in the entry of the pathogen into host cells.

The antibody, called S309, is now on a fast-track development and testing path at Vir Biotechnology in the next step toward possible clinical trials.

"These results pave the way for using S309 and S309-containing antibody cocktails for prophylaxis in individuals at high risk of exposure or as a post-exposure therapy to limit or treat severe disease", the researchers wrote.

'We still need to show that this antibody is protective in living systems, which has not yet been done, ' said Dr David Veesler, an assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in a press release.

"Right now there are no approved tools or licensed therapeutics proven to fight against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19", he added.

Covid-19 tracing app launched
The app was officially released today, however some users were able to download it early from the Apple store yesterday. Screenshots from the iOS version of the NZ Covid Tracer app from the Ministry of Health.

There have been at least two exceptions, both of which have looked at antibodies developed by survivors of another outbreak, SARS, 17 years ago.

Healthcare workers had worse long-term mental health outcomes than other groups, while making a good physical recovery predicted better long-term mental health, they said.

COVID-19 is caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. If a new infection happens, these cells launch an antibody counterattack again.

Experiments found that S309 was particularly effective at targeting and disabling the spike proteins.

An electron microscope image of the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (yellow), emerging from the surface of cells.

The report recommended that doctors remain vigilant to further psychological effects in recovering patients, as 33 percent of survivors from the SARS and MERS epidemics experienced PTSD two years after they were seriously ill. According to a Reuters report ahead of an official announcement, the CDC's SARS-CoV-2 antibody study will test about 325,000 people across 25 United States cities.

'When you have a large mix of different live wild animals caged in close proximity to each other, there is always a chance that a virus will mutate among them, and then be able to infect humans and spread, ' Ball told members of the Upper Chamber.

The company has filed for emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and is now waiting.

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