Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center identify neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus from COVID-19 Patients.
The human body’s immune response to an infection involves a myriad of cellular and molecular activities. One of which includes the production of antibodies that bind to the foreign microorganism for destruction by the immune system.
A team of researchers from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center have isolated antibodies from several COVID-19 patient which are among the most potent in neutralising the novel coronavirus. These antibodies have the potential to be produced in large quantities by pharmaceutical companies and provide a new treatment option, especially early in the course of infection.
"We now have a collection of antibodies that's more potent and diverse compared to other antibodies that have been found so far, and they are ready to be developed into treatments," says David Ho, MD, scientific director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, who directed the work.
The researchers have confirmed that their purified, strongly neutralizing antibodies provide significant protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection in hamsters, and they are planning further studies in other animals and people. The findings were published in the journal Nature.
SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies produced by COVID-19 patients could be used to treat other patients or even prevent infection in people exposed to the virus while drugs and vaccines are still under development in clinical trials.
The Columbia team found a more diverse variety of antibodies than previous efforts, including new, unique antibodies that were not reported earlier.
"These findings show which sites on the viral spike are most vulnerable," Dr Ho said. "Using a cocktail of different antibodies that are directed to different sites in spike will help prevent the virus becoming resistant to the treatment."
Elucidating on its broad use, Dr Ho shared that these antibodies could also be useful after a vaccine is available especially if it doesn’t work well in the elderly, the antibodies could help to play a key role in protection against COVID-19.
This research demonstrates that people with severe disease are more likely to have a durable antibody response, however more research needs to be done to answer the critical question about how long immunity to COVID-19 will last.
The team is now planning to further test their strategy in other animal models and eventually move on to humans. If found to be successful these neutralizing antibodies could be given to COVID-19 patients to battle against the virus.
Although tremendously informative for researchers developing vaccines and antiviral therapies, the findings are early-stage preclinical results and the antibodies are not yet ready for use in people.