The University of Pittsburgh has announced that School of Medicine scientists have “isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that completely and specifically neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
The antibody component is ten times smaller than a full-sized antibody. It has been used to construct a drug called Ab8, according to Pittwire, the official news source of the university.
Ab8 is effective in preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice and hamsters, reported Pittwire. The report added that its tiny size “makes it possible to administer the drug by alternative routes, including inhalation. Importantly, it does not bind to human cells—a good sign that it won’t have negative side-effects in people.”
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“Ab8 not only has potential as therapy for COVID-19,” said co-author John Mellors, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Pitt and UPMC. He added that “it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,”
“Antibodies of larger size have worked against other infectious diseases and have been well tolerated, giving us hope that it could be an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19 and for protection of those who have never had the infection and are not immune,” he added.
Xianglei Liu of Pitt is also co-lead author.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge facing humanity, but biomedical science and human ingenuity are likely to overcome it,” said Mellors. “We hope that the antibodies we have discovered will contribute to that triumph.”