A Chinese laboratory is developing a drug believed to have the potential to halt an outbreak of the new Corona virus.
Researchers say the drug, which scientists are testing at Beijing University, will not only reduce the recovery time for infected people, but it can also provide short-term immunity to the virus.The director of the Beijing Center for Advanced Innovation in Genomics, San Shi, told France Presse that the drug succeeded in the animal testing stage.
“When we injected mice with neutralized antibodies, the viral load decreased by a factor of 2500,” Shi said.
The drug uses neutral antibodies, produced by the human immune system to prevent the virus from infecting cells, which were isolated by the Shi team from the blood of 60 recovered patients.
A study on team research published Sunday in the scientific journal “Cel” indicates that the use of antibodies provides a possible “treatment” for the disease and shortens the recovery period.
“Our expertise is in single-cell genomics rather than immunology and virology. When we realized that a single-cell genome approach could effectively create a neutralized antibody we were overwhelmed with happiness,” he said.
He added that the drug is expected to be ready for use later this year and in time to cope with any possible outbreaks during the winter of the virus, which infected 4.8 million people around the world and killed more than 315,000.
“Planning is underway to start clinical trials,” he said, adding that it will take place in Australia and other countries since the number of infections has decreased significantly in China, which means that the number of people who can be tested is reduced.
“We hope that these neutralized antibodies will turn into a specialized drug that can stop the epidemic,” he said.
A health official said last week that China currently had five potential corona vaccines in the testing phase.
But the World Health Organization has warned that it may take 12-18 months to develop a vaccine.
Scientists have also pointed out the potential benefits of plasma from people who have recovered and developed antibodies to a virus that the body’s defenses can attack.
Plasma treatment has been used on more than 700 patients in China, in a process that authorities said showed “very good treatment effects.”
“But it (plasma) is limited in its abundance,” Shi said, noting that large quantities of the 14 neutral antibodies used in his team’s drug can be produced.
The use of antibodies in drugs is not a new approach, as this method has succeeded in the past in treating several other viruses, such as HIV, the cause of AIDS, Ebola and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Xi said his researchers started their experiments “early” since the virus appeared in China before it spread to other countries.
Ramsdivir, which was used to treat Ebola, was considered an early and hopeful treatment for Covid-19, as clinical trials in the United States showed that it reduced the recovery time for some patients by a third, but the difference in mortality was not significant.
The new drug can provide short-term protection from the virus.
The study showed that if the mice were injected into the neutral antibody before they were infected with the virus, they would not be infected with it.
This may provide temporary protection for health workers for a few weeks, a period that Xi expressed the hope that it will be “extended for a few months.”
More than 100 Covid-19 vaccines are being worked on worldwide. However, given that the vaccine development process takes a lot of time and effort, Xi hopes the new drug will be a faster and more effective way to stop the virus from spreading around the world.
“We can stop the epidemic with an effective drug, even without a vaccine,” he said.