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Tuesday May 05 2020

Scientists discover antibody that blocks invasion of coronavirus into human cells

Photo: Reuters

In a major breakthrough, scientists have discovered an antibody that prevents the invasion of novel coronavirus into human cells and offers hope of a treatment for the contagious pathogen which has killed over 235,000 to date.

According to a Daily Mail news report, the antibody, known as 47D11, targets the deadly virus' infamous 'spike protein', which it uses to hook onto cells and insert its genetic material.

Researchers and health experts around the world claim that the antibody – if injected into humans – could alter the 'course of infection' or protect an uninfected person exposed to someone with the virus.

The European research team, according to the publication, identified the antibody from 51 cell lines from mice that had been engineered to carry human genes.

Tests conducted in various mice cells reveal that 47D11 binds to this protein and prevents it from hooking on – effectively neutralising it.

The news report states that the antibody targets the novel coronavirus that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak, known as SARS-CoV-1.

However, scientists claim that it can also neutralise SARS-CoV-2, which is from the same family of coronaviruses as SARS-CoV-1.

‘This research is developed on the work our groups have done in the past on antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV that emerged in 2002/2003,’ co-lead author Professor Berend-Jan Bosch at Utrecht University told the UK paper.

‘Using this collection of SARS-CoV antibodies, we identified an antibody that also neutralises infection of SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells.

‘Such a neutralising antibody has potential to alter the course of infection in the infected host, support virus clearance or protect an uninfected individual that is exposed to the virus,’ he added.