US Biotech Firm Identifies Two Antibodies That May Be Effective Against Covid-19; Human Trials To Begin In 3-5 MonthsRepresentative Image (Pic via Twitter)

A United States-based biotech firm, Vir Biotechnology, on Wednesday (25 March) said that it has identified two antibodies that appeared to have neutralised the Coronavirus in laboratory testing and that it would further pursue testing them in people.

The company said that human tests of the drugs could begin in three to five months.

“Stopping this disease will take a combination of prevention and treatment approaches,”  Vir CEO George Scangos said in a statement, reports Stat News.

“At Vir, we are fortunate that our existing antibody platform gave us a running start against COVID-19, and we have the internal and partnered capabilities to work on multiple approaches,” Scangos added.

The San Francisco-based firm is working with another US biotech company Biogen and China-based manufacturing organisation Wuxi Biologics.

According to the report, an antibody drug is one of the many techniques that researchers are trying against the Covid-19. Antibodies are a part of the immune system that drug companies have learned to weaponize as treatments for diseases.

An antibody drug against SARS-CoV-2 might either treat infection in very sick patients or prevent infection.

Another US firm, Regeneron, which is based in New York, has said that its antibodies drugs could enter trials by early summer. The firm also said that if its antibody drug is proven effective, it could be available for some uses in between September-November.

However, both companies have taken a different approach to develop their antibody drugs. While Regeneron is using two antibodies together, Vir has picked a single antibody and is modifying it into two different ways. Vir will then use the resulting two experimental drugs in parallel.

The company engineered the fragmented crystallised (tail) region of the antibody in two ways. First, they altered it so it would have a longer half-life and second, they made a change that increases short-term potency. In animal tests, this generated protective white blood cells that have the potential to offer long-term immunity.

Vir said it has also identified other antibodies that work differently so that they might be combined with the two it is testing. And it is continuing to search for antibodies in the blood or patients who have survived SARS-CoV-2.

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