A team from the Netherlands, Utrecht University who had managed to contain the SARS virus during the outbreak of 2002 firstly looked at frozen antibodies that recognized the 2002 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), which they had stored in the early 2000s during the outbreak when the novel COVID-19 virus broke out.
The results showed that one of the antibodies has been identified in recognizing the infection due to the novel coronavirus, SARS- CoV-2. Further study showed that it can help block infection in cultured human cells.
Berend-Jan Bosch, one of the lead authors that published the study in Nature Communications, from Utrecht University explained that the antibody identified binds to a domain that is preserved in both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2.
Tests and assays
The published study added that this antibody can help develop antigen detection tests and serological assays.
The team wrote that this antibody offers the potential to prevent and treat the novel COVID-19 virus, and possibly also other future emerging diseases in humans caused by viruses.
Co-lead author of the study from Erasmus Medical Center, Frank Grosveld explained they aim to make antibodies against SARS, MERS, and HCV-OC43 and other coronaviruses to get antibodies that would identify all three coronaviruses.
Parts of the proteins of these viruses are highly preserved and they hope to obtain antibodies that identify these preserved characteristics, of which they have already successfully identified. He added that the newly identified antibody was found among previously identified ones that did not recognize all three viruses and was put in the freezer.
Dr. Grosveld explains that with the new infections, it becomes a race between the human body making new antibodies versus the virus replicating, destroying cells and doing its damage. The antibodies can be isolated in several ways, one of which is to fuse the B-cells with leukemic cells to make it immortal.
He added that the fused B-cells called hybridomas are grown individually and are tested whether they can build an antibody that would recognize the target. Because they come from single B-cells hybridomas, they can only make one specific antibody which is called a monoclonal antibody.
The team is currently testing the antibody in animal models and is also collaborating with a pharmaceutical company to develop the antibody further.