Covid-19: An antibody treatment could be close | Daily News


Covid-19: An antibody treatment could be close

Vaccines have gotten all the attention in the race to fight Covid-19, but there is a major push in the United States to develop antibody therapies to treat coronavirus. There’s so much of a push that some scientists think these treatments may be available this year, even before a vaccine.

Antibodies are the proteins the body makes to fight infection.

Since the Victorian era, scientists have harnessed this natural protection for treatments.

During the 1918 flu pandemic, doctors proved convalescent plasma -- antibody-filled blood plasma from patients who recovered from the disease -- could fight flu. Convalescent plasma has been used to treat severe flu, MERS and SARS and now some US doctors are starting to see some success treating Covid-19, too

Since there isn’t enough donated plasma to treat all patients, modern medicine can fill in the gaps and maybe even improve the process. Scientists can create what are called monoclonal antibodies: lab-made antibodies created specifically to target an infection.

Vaccines have the advantage of working longer than an antibody treatment. Antibody therapies potentially last a month or two and then wear off, but they can be used to temporarily protect vulnerable populations such as nursing home residents or healthcare workers or people with chronic conditions. The therapies could also treat people who are already sick with Covid-19.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said these therapies will be essential in the fight against Covid-19.

“Right now we have a major push on a program to develop monoclonal antibodies, convalescent plasma, and hyperimmune globulin, all of which are founded on the same principle of using an antibody that is directed against the virus for either prophylaxis or treatment,” Fauci said in an interview with JAMA on June 8. “I think you’re going to see it’s going to be for both. We’d like to have available for those who are at risk—the elderly and those with underlying conditions—either monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma. That’s a very, very high priority.”

Currently there are at least 102 Covid-19 antibody treatments in various stages of development, according to David Thomas, vice president of Industry Research at BIO, the trade association representing the biotechnology industry. Thomas does the research that goes into his organization’s Covid-19 therapeutic development tracker. He said there are so many treatments under development, it’s hard to keep up. (CNN)

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