Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) may be on the verge of discovering new COVID-19 antibodies capable of attaching onto and destroying the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, reports suggest.
Researchers at the ARL and the University of Texas (UT) in Austin have been pushing to pursue technical innovations aimed at “discovering” and engineering new potentially “neutralizing” antibodies, reported Warrior Maven.
Scientists at the ARL told the outlet that the “neutralizing” antibodies, if discovered, may potentially be life-saving for critically ill patients infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, a novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China.
Antibodies are blood proteins produced by the immune system to combat viruses and other foreign material.
The Commander of Army Futures Command, Gen. John Murray, told Warrior Maven that ARL researchers have so far “identified 18 potential therapeutic/neutralizing monoclonal antibodies.”
Murray explained that blood samples were taken from COVID-19-infected patients by doctors and scientists, who then attempted to engineer new antibody configurations capable of destroying the virus.
“We look to find sequences that are binding to COVID-19. Then we send them off to test their ability to neutralize,” said Dr. Jimmy Gollihar, synthetic biology research scientist at the U.S. Army Capabilities Development Command, ARL-South.
“In partnership with UT in Austin we’ve been working on methods to ID sequences of heavy and light chains of antibodies that are specific to COVID-19,” he said. “The people that we drew blood from were recently infected. They range from one to two weeks post-onset of symptoms. Once we drew their blood we separated their B cells.”
Gollihar clarified that the discovered antibodies are intended to provide a “bridge to a vaccine”—hastening recovery, rather than providing a long-term solution.
“Antibody sequences are short-lived,” and have “varying degrees of half-life in a serum,” Gollihar explained, adding that they do not provide long-term immunity.
“The challenge is to find antibodies that are binding to COVID-19. Once we find them we produce them and send them off to the lab,” Gollihar continued.
Murray said that the ARL has submitted a proposal to the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals.
Scientists at the ARL and UT plan to test the antibodies in a small group of patients infected with COVID-19.