Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, scientists have been ceaselessly looking for ways to fight back. And while much attention has focused on the development of a vaccine, researchers have also been looking at using antibodies from recovered patients to unlock new treatments for COVID-19.
Typically the antibodies can be obtained from patients who have recovered from the virus — llamas included — but since it would take forever to get enough samples this way, a group of researchers is taking a more efficient approach to mass-producing the antibodies — cloning.
Doctors and medical researchers from Mount Sinai Health System and the pharmaceutical company Sorrento Therapeutics have partnered up to clone those protective antibodies and use them to mass-produce what they’re calling a “pharmaceutical cocktail.”
When administered to a naïve — or a yet-uninfected — person, those antibodies could help bolster their immune systems against the coronavirus, similarly to how a vaccine would work. They also hope it could help patients who caught the coronavirus but haven’t quite fought it off yet.
Compared to a vaccine, which takes time to generate immunity and may not trigger a response in some people, the yet-undeveloped treatment is expected to protect patients for as much as two months straight — and could help protect more people than a vaccine would.
After studying blood samples from about 15,000 recovered, the researchers hope to identify which antibodies offer the strongest protection against the coronavirus and clone them en masse. The plan is to also include three different antibodies to ensure the therapy is resistant to future virus mutations.
Researchers expect to begin clinical trials on both sick and uninfected patients in the coming months. If all goes well, the experimental therapy is expected to be available by the end of the year.