Amsterdam researchers discover "potent" Covid-19 antibodies
Researchers at Amsterdam University Medical Center discovered two proteins that are a promising possible treatment for the coronavirus, the university hospital announced. The antibodies were found in the blood of two Amsterdam patients who recovered from Covid-19 and are much more potent than antibodies found in patients who recovered from coronaviruses in the past, like SARS in 2013, according to research leader Dr. Marit van Gils.
"These new antibodies are a hundred times stronger than the antibodies that were already there," Van Gils said. The fact that they are so powerful means that less of them are needed, if they prove an effective treatment, and it will therefore be cheaper to make.
Using the blood of recovered patients as a medicine is practice that dates back to the Spanish flu over 100 years ago. The advantage is that the blood plasma is immediately available and does not have to be tested for years, like vaccines or medicines, Van Gils explained. "We tested all Covid antibodies from the blood in the lab and isolated the most powerful variants," she said.
The next step is to prove that the antibodies are safe to use. This will first be done on laboratory animals - do the antibodies also attack virus particles in test animals? If so, they will be tested in people - a process that can take some time. Van Gils hopes that human testing can start early next year. Then the next step is to start producing these antibodies on a large scale.
The Amsterdam researchers will continue to examine the blood of cured Covid-19 patients, looking for even more powerful antibodies. They hope to develop a kind of antibodies cocktail that can prevent people from being infected with the coronavirus, like a short-acting vaccine.
The researchers published their findings in Science on Monday.