THE NETHERLANDS — Researchers from the University of Utrecht and the Erasmus medical centre have developed a human antibody which, they say ‘offers potential for prevention and treatment of COVID-19’.
It is important not to give false hope but the discovery is promising, research leader Berend-Jan Bosch says on the UU website. ‘But it is still too soon to speculate about its eventual working on people.’ The research is currently awaiting peer review before it can be published in the prestigious science journal Nature.
The researchers are now trying to get a pharmaceutical company on board that can produce the antibody on a large scale as a medicine. ‘Before it can be marketed, the antibody must go through an extensive development phase and be tested for toxicological properties,’ Erasmus professor Frank Grosveld told Erasmus Magazine.
‘That process is now underway. In addition to the development as a medicine, we also want to use the antibody to set up a diagnostic test: one that everyone can do from home, so that people can easily find out whether they have an infection or not.
’ Grosveld says he expects that if the medicine were taken, it would stop the infection and give the patient time to recover. ‘But prevention is of course better than a cure,’ he says. ‘A real solution is therefore a vaccine, others are working on that. However, developing a vaccine can easily take two years.
Our medicine, if it all works as it should, could be here sooner. Only, it is more expensive to produce.’
However, virologist Ab Osterhaus, who was also involved in the research, told the Telegraaf that optimism about a medicine should be tempered. Osterhaus said he could ‘think of a lot of reasons’ why the antibody might not lead to a medicine.
Many of these sorts of findings don’t make it, he said. ‘You must not think that you can make a few kilos of this medicine and the world will be saved,’ he told the paper.