“We are happy to announce we have completed the engineering and we have some very potent antibodies that can be effective against the virus,” said Dr. Glanville on Monday.
Glanville told Radio New Zealand that his team used a series of five antibodies that were able to neutralize SARS in 2002, and adapted them to attack COVID-19.
“The new virus is a cousin of the old SARS. So what we’ve done is we’ve created hundreds of millions of versions of those antibodies, we’ve mutated them a bit, and in that pool of mutated versions, we found versions that cross them over,” Glanville said Monday. “So now we know they bind on the same spot as the new virus, Covid-19.
Glanville said his team is in communication with the U.S. government about conducting a study about the drugs usefelness.
“Part of the reason we think we’re moving pretty fast is that instead of starting from scratch discovering an antibody, we went to these existing antibodies that were already extremely well characterised against SARS. And we’ve adapted them. So we’re piggybacking on two years of research,” Glanville said.
Although Glanville says that although his “short-term” vaccine takes effect quickly, the disadvantage is that antibodies only give protection for eight to 10 weeks, unlike a true vaccine.
The next phase in the process will be to send the antibodies to the military for confirmation testing, and Charles River Laboaratories for safety testing. He says his team has partnered with 2 companies to scale up production of the drug once it is approved, and would begin human trials at the end of summer.
If the drug is safe, Glanville said it could begin to be released in September.
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