Researchers have identified a potent cocktail of antibodies that may help doctors treat Covid-19 infections and protect people at risk from falling ill with the disease.
The antibodies were collected from patients hospitalised with severe Covid-19, and they could be manufactured at scale by pharmaceutical firms and transfused into the blood to fight the virus or prevent it from taking hold.
Scientists at Columbia University in New York screened antibodies from 40 Covid-19 patients and identified 61 types from five individuals that effectively wiped out coronavirus. Among them were nine that displayed “exquisite potency” for neutralising the pathogen.
Tests on cells showed that the antibodies killed off the virus, while experiments with hamsters revealed that an infusion of one of the more potent antibodies protected the animals from disease. “It shut off infectious virus completely in the lung tissue of the hamsters we treated,” said David Ho, a professor of medicine at Columbia who led the research.
“We specifically isolated very potent antibodies that can be mass produced and then administered,” Ho said. “We would assume that these could be used to prevent or treat Sars-Cov-2. We’d be looking to treat early in the course of infection, particularly those at risk of developing severe disease such as the elderly and those with underlying illness.”
He added: “In terms of prevention, these could certainly substitute for vaccines, and again we’d be looking at the most vulnerable, for example, nursing home residents.”
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