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Discovery during antibody testing could stop people from getting COVID

There’s a tiny molecule that neutralizes the coronavirus, as seen in testing on mice and hamsters. This discovery could be the key to preventing people from contracting the virus.

Doctors Steven Shapiro and John Mellors with the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine are putting faith in a tiny antibody compound. AB8 could cause the end of the pandemic.

“It can be given before a patient is sick to prevent the disease, but if the patient does have the disease, it can be used to keep the virus from entering the cell once it’s already there. So it both treats and prevents,” said Shapiro, the executive vice president of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine.

Mellors, the chief of the Divison of Infectious Diseases, said to think of AB8 like a lock and key system. “It prevents the key from getting into the lock, blocking that entryway, so the virus can’t infect the cells and cause death of the cell and spread.”

The small size of AB8 is what makes it so potent yet effective. The compound can reach places that other treatments simply can’t. This also means doctors can administer it in different ways, such as through inhalation or by injecting it under the skin.

Researchers want to assure people that the compound does not bind to human cells, which means it won’t have negative side effects.

“The timeline, to be brief, is the start of 2021,” Mellors said. “To manufacture, do safety assessments in other animals, to get FDA approval and to register and enroll clinical trials.”

As of now, it is licensed for worldwide development, so the hope is that AB8 can fight, destroy and even prevent COVID-19.

WINK News Health and Medical Reporter Veronica Marshall reached out to other health experts for their opinions on AB8.

“This is a very interesting development; the tiny size of the antibody fragment might make it useful in aerosol formulations,” said Dr. Dennis Burton with Scripps Research.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Drew Hill
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