A Chinese research team has identified two human monoclonal antibodies that could block the COVID-19 virus, according to a new study published online on Science.
“We have identified a weakness of the virus, this will make our upcoming research on medicines and vaccines against the virus much easier,” said Liu Lei, head of Shenzhen No. 3 People’s Hospital.
Multiple institutions including Capital Medical University, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, CAS and Shenzhen No. 3 People’s Hospital participated in this study.
The team isolated four human-origin monoclonal antibodies from a patient that recovered from COVID-19, all of which display neutralization abilities. Two antibodies named B38 and H4 showed complete competition with ACE2 (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2) for binding to RBD (Receptor-Binding Domain) of the spike glycoprotein on the COVID-19 virus. As Liu explains, “those two antibodies could stop the virus from penetrating the cell, and no infection would be possible if the virus cannot enter the cell.”
The research also shows potential for those two antibodies to be developed into new medicines and vaccines. Now the selection of engineered cells that can steadily generate high-quality antibodies is already under way, and experiments on animals will be next. It could be as fast as three months from in-vivo experiments to clinical tests.