Researchers from Tel Aviv University announced this week that they have identified a combination of antibodies against COVID-19 that can serve as a drug for patients suffering from the disease and as a preventive treatment for high-risk populations. The antibody cocktail will be tested in clinical trials over the next several months.
The treatment was developed by Dr. Natalia Freund and PhD student Michael Mor at the Human Antibody Research Laboratory at the School of Medicine and is being reviewed by the medical journal PLOS Pathogens.
They reported that their research also showed that asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID-19 patients developed a minor antibody reaction and thus may contract the disease again.
In contrast, seriously ill patients tested in the study developed antibodies that neutralize the virus and likely protect them from reinfection, the researchers said.
Dr. Freund and her team sequenced thousands of antibodies produced in the bodies of Israeli COVID-19 patients. From that they were able to isolate and characterize six antibodies from the blood of two seriously ill patients. They then showed that the combination of three simultaneous antibodies is effective against COVID-19, providing natural immunity.
The researchers found that the blood’s ability to neutralize the virus comes from various types of antibodies that attack at the same time and mix. “Since antibodies are natural and remain stably in the blood, an injection of them can protect against COVID-19 for several weeks, or even months,” says Freund.
“Our vision is that in the future, the cocktail will be used to treat patients with COVID-19, as was the case with the experimental cocktail administered to the President of the United States, Donald Trump, or as a preventive measure for high-risk populations and medical personnel, until the long-awaited arrival of the vaccine occurs. This combination of antibodies was developed naturally by the immune system of patients, which means that it is probably safe to use, ”the researchers said.
The investigation began in April 2020, shortly after the pandemic reached Israel. Dr. Freund and her team studied 18 of Israel’s first COVID-19 patients.
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