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Coronavirus: Scientists hail ‘groundbreaking’ discovery of antibody which prevents infection

Building on research into antibodies which target the SARS coronavirus, scientists have identified one that blocks COVID-19

Alexander Martin, Technology reporter, Sky News

Scientists have discovered an antibody which prevents the coronavirus from infecting human cells in “groundbreaking research” which could lead to the development of new treatments.

Building on research into the SARS coronavirus, scientists from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, as well as the Erasmus Medical Centre and the company Harbour BioMed (HBM), have identified a potential method of neutralising COVID-19.

They discovered that an antibody which prevents the SARS virus from infecting human cells could also block the novel coronavirus from infecting human cells too, according a peer reviewed study published on Monday in the journal Nature Communications.

Testing their collection of antibodies on cultured human cells, researchers discovered one which binds to a specific part which is present in both SARS and the virus causing COVID-19.

The discovery could offer an initial step towards developing a fully-human antibody to treat or prevent the disease, which has infected more then 3.5 million people worldwide, and led to more than 247,000 deaths.

The neutralising antibody “has potential to alter the course of infection in the infected host, support virus clearance or protect an uninfected individual that is exposed to the virus,” said Dr Berend-Jan Bosch, co-lead author on the study.

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