Dutch coronavirus medicine could be ready in 6 months
Coronavirus antibody research by Utrecht University and Erasmus MC can stop an infection by the coronavirus. The medicine is currently at the stage of animal research. And if this produces good results, "according to the most favorable prognosis, we can treat patients who give permission on a small scale within six months," head researcher Berend Bosch said to Nieuwsuur.
Bosch, his colleague Frank Grosveld of Erasmus MC , and a team of international scientists announced that they discovered a coronavirus antibody in mid-March. They had a head start in this research because there were antibodies left over from previous research on other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, kept in a freezer at Utrecht's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine "We started working on that and it turned out that one of those antibodies can not only bind to the coronavirus, but also block the infection of cells."
"Antibodies can restrain a virus, like a few policemen can restrain a thief," Bosch explained at a press conference. Scientists from all over the world are researching these antibodies, and he is pleased with that. "That means there is more to choose from and they could potentially work together. And in that way there is a bigger chance to fight the disease." He believes that this antibody "has the potential to be used against future emerging SARS-related coronaviruses."
Ultimately, Bosch hopes that the medicine will be used in two ways, he said to Nieuwsuur. "On the one hand as a medicine for corona patients and on the other hand for people who are not yet sick. You can pretreat them with the antibody so that they are protected when they are exposed to the virus. So as a prevention for people who belong to a risk group."
According Bosch, two or three large pharmaceutical companies are interested in investing millions of euro into the development of this medicine - important to produce it on a large scale. The patent will remain with the researchers. "But such a company can license it so that the antibody can end up in the clinic," Bosch said.