Scientists in the Netherlands who studied the SARS virus have identified an antibody that prevents the novel coronavirus from infecting human cells.
Britain’s Sky News reports the researchers at Utrecht University, the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam and the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company Harbour BioMed have identified a potential method of neutralizing COVID-19, the report said, describing the step as “groundbreaking.”
Their peer-reviewed study published this week in Nature Communications concluded an antibody that prevents the SARS virus from infecting human cells also could block COVID-19.
The find may not be an instant solution to the coronavirus, which has infected more than 3 million worldwide and killed more than 240,000. But it could offer a step toward developing a fully human antibody to treat or prevent COVID-19.
The SARS outbreak, from 2002 to 2004, infected 8,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 800.
Dr. Frank Grosveld, a co-author of the study, called the breakthrough a “strong foundation for additional research to characterize this antibody and begin development as a potential COVID-19 treatment.”
His co-author, Dr. Berend-Jan Bosh, said, Sky News reported, it “has potential to alter the course of infection in the infected host, support virus clearance or protect an uninfected individual that is exposed.”
The antibody was developed in Harbour BioMed’s technology lab, which uses “humanized” mice to allow researchers to develop treatments without testing them on living people, the report said.