Ladies and gentlemen, let’s have a round of applause for science. In a report shared this week, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine claim to have discovered a molecule and antibody that “completely and specifically neutralizes” the virus that causes COVID-19.
The discovery comes at a time where scientists are scrambling to find a vaccine for the deadly virus.
The antibody has been used to create the drug Ab8 which has been effective in treating mice and hamsters during lab testing. The research also suggests the drug would not lead to negative side effects in humans.
“Ab8 not only has potential as therapy for COVID-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said co-author John Mellors, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Pitt and UPMC. “Antibodies of larger size have worked against other infectious diseases and have been well tolerated, giving us hope that it could be an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19 and for protection of those who have never had the infection and are not immune.”
While there is still progress that will need to be made, it is a positive breakthrough in the ongoing race for a vaccine.
The coronavirus mainly comes from animals and a majority of those who were infected early either worked at or frequently visited the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, according to The Guardian. The virus is similar to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers).
The Wuhan coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission.” That means an infected person can pass the virus by sneezing or coughing on another person as well as by direct contact.
While a majority of the cases have been detected in the United States and China — with more than 6.38 million confirmed cases and 191,000 deaths in the United States — it has now reached many countries around the world. It has also been confirmed in Italy, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and many other eastern countries.