A team of Singapore scientists has discovered five antibodies that can block Coronavirus infection and protect against the key mutations that have emerged in the Coronavirus during the pandemic, Singapore's defence research and development organisation said on Wednesday.
Human trials for the lead anitbody, AOD01, will commence in the coming months, pending approval from the Health Science Authority, said the Defence Science Organisation National Laboratories.
The DSO said that its scientists have screened hundreds of thousands of B cells - the cells that produce antibodies to target pathogens - from the blood samples of recovered Coronavirus infected patients since March this year.
The scientists managed to isolate the first two antibodies for testing within a month of receiving the blood samples from the National Centre for Infectious Disease and Singapore General Hospital. Two months later, it identified another three effective antibodies.
This was accomplished using a technique that screens B cells simultaneously with the virus, allowing antibodies with effective virus neutralising properties to be quickly identified, reported Channel News Asia.
The process was developed by the DSO in collaboration with the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Life Sciences Institute over the last five years, according to the report.
Results showed that five antibodies demonstrate neutralisation against Coronavirus, said the DSO.
They are all potent in blocking Coronavirus infection and effective against the key mutations that have emerged in the Coronavirus during the pandemic, it said.
Dr Conrad Chan, principal research scientist and laboratory director said, with the research phase completed, the study is now transiting into the preclinical phase, where the team is preparing the lead antibody for production.
This will allow clinical trials to be conducted, and manufacturing to be scaled up when human trials are successful, he added.
If the clinical trial goes well, the antibodies could stop the Coronavirus from spreading to the lungs if administered before the illness become too critical, he said in response to questions about how the antibodies could help infected patients.