Pittsburgh researchers unveil new drug that could treat and prevent covid-19

New Covid antibody test can handle larger number of donor samples

Scientists of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have discovered a tiny antibody, the smallest molecule component ever.

After ab8 was engineered by scientists at Pitt, the molecule was collaboratively evaluated in conjunction with scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, as well as the University of British Columbia and University of Saskatchewan.

Researchers reported that the drug has so far proven "highly effective in preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 infection" in mice and hamsters.

Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine & Epidemiology, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, added, "Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen the power of randomized trials to provide rigorous assessment of potential treatments".

The most important thing is that it doesn't cause any negative side effects in humans as it won't bind to human cells.

One of the world's largest efforts to find effective COVID-19 treatments will evaluate the impact of REGN-COV2, an investigational antibody cocktail, on mortality, hospital stays, and the need for ventilation.

The tiny size of the antibody helps heighten its capacity to diffuse in tissues.

The antibody component is the variable, heavy chain (VH) domain of an immunoglobulin.

Researchers are also "thinking outside the box" for how the drug could be administered, stating it may be able to be inhaled or through a superficial injection, instead of an IV.

Clinical trials are testing convalescent plasma-which contains antibodies from people who already had the pandemic-as a treatment for those battling the infection, but there isn't enough plasma for those who might need it, and it isn't proven to work. The isolated part is found useful in constructing a drug Ab8 to treat the affected patients.

"REGN-COV2 was specifically designed by Regeneron scientists to target the virus that causes COVID-19".

All noted how it appeared to stop the virus from entering cells.

Dimiter Dimitrov, director of Pitt's Center for Antibody Therapeutics, describes this discovery of the antibody effect on the coronavirus as a "golden moment" in the life of scientist.

Ab8 was identified by "fishing" in a pool of more than 100B potential candidates using the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as bait. They found that ab8 significantly decreased infectious virus by 10-fold at two days post infection even at a very low dose of 2 mg/kg in mouse models, compared to untreated counterparts.

Development of the antibody began in February at Pitt's Center for Antibody Therapeutics, Mellors said, "before covid-19 was a household name".

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