Science

A drug might bring Covid-19 pandemic to a halt before any vaccine

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on May 19, 2020

Chinese researchers at the prestigious Peking University are developing a drug that could bring widespread coronavirus to a juddering halt.

The scientists claimed that the drug could not only decrease the recovery time of the coronavirus infected patients but also help them build a short-term immunity against the virus, as per the Agence France Presse report.

Sunney Xie, director of the university's Beijing Advanced Innovation Centre for Genomics, told AFP that the drug has been successful at the animal testing stage.

"When we injected neutralizing antibodies into infected mice, after five days, the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500. "That means this potential drug has (a) therapeutic effect," said Xie to AFP.

The drug uses neutralizing antibodies -- produced by the human immune system to prevent the virus infecting cells -- which Xie's team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients.

Xie informed that his team had been working "day and night" searching for the antibody.

"Our expertise is single-cell genomics rather than immunology or virology. When we realized that the single-cell genomic approach can effectively find the neutralizing antibody, we were thrilled."

He noted that the drug would be available by late 2020 when the whole world is speculating another flare-up of the deadly contagion.

"Planning for the clinical trial is underway," said Xie, adding it will be carried out in Australia and other countries since cases have dwindled in China, offering fewer human guinea pigs for testing.

"The hope is these neutralized antibodies can become a specialized drug that would stop the pandemic," he said.

Published on May 19, 2020

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