The scientists’ research team at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) are believed to have identified an antibody that protects and limits the severity of infections from COVID-19, including other coronavirus variants.

“This antibody has the potential to be a therapeutic for the current epidemic,” stated the co-senior author Barton Haynes, MD, director of  Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI). “It could also be available for future outbreaks, if or when other coronaviruses jump from their natural animal hosts to humans,” he added. 

The group of researchers published their findings in the Science Translational Medicine journal on Nov. 2, wherein they identified more than 1,700 coronavirus antibodies. Only 50 antibodies can bind to both the SARS-CoV-1 virus as well as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. The antibody DH1047 was proven to be particularly effective, binding to all kinds of viruses to block pathogens from infecting cells on both animals and humans.

As the viruses mutate, a lot of binding sites leave antibodies inefficient. Still, there are some sites on the virus that remain unchanged despite mutations. The antibodies will target these specific sites because of their ability to be highly effective across different lineages of a virus.

The antibody DH1047 is said to work by binding to the cells of the virus and neutralizing them, stopping them from replicating. Prophylactic and therapeutic treatment with DH1047 was protective against SARS-CoV, WIV-1, RsSHC014, and SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 infection in mice. 

The antibody was tested in mice. DH1047 shows the ability to protect rodents from developing coronavirus infection after being exposed to the virus. It was effective against all strains, including the Delta variant.

Other coronavirus varieties that are believed to potentially infect humans in the future were also tested and neutralized by the antibody.

Dr. Ralph Baric, professor of epidemiology at UNC and co-senior author of the research said, “The findings provide a template for the rational design of universal vaccine strategies that are variant-proof and provide broad protection from known and emerging coronaviruses.”

The discovery of the new antibody provides hope and can massively help in the treatment for coronavirus-related diseases. 

Monoclonal antibody treatments are considered the most effective in treating Covid nowadays, especially those at high risk of severe symptoms. In this treatment, it pumps a person’s body with antibodies. This treatment is vital for unvaccinated people who do not have the antibodies necessary to avoid infection or severe hospitalization.

Nurses and doctors work in the Covid-19 ICU in France Representationnal image. Photo by Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images