Pitt scientists developing drug to prevent, treat COVID-19

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Of these, they identified ab8, a human IgG1 crystallizable fragment (Fc) fusion format, which showed the most potent neutralization activity and specificity against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro and in mouse and hamster models.

The scientists says Ab8's small size increases its potential for diffusion in tissues, increasing efficacy, while being potentially suitable for alternative routes of administration such as inhalation. As well as being effective, scientists said it may not produce negative effects in humans because it does not bind to human cells.

Can Be A Preventive Measure As Well?

After ab8 was engineered by scientists at Pitt, the molecule was collaboratively evaluated in conjunction with scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, as well as the University of British Columbia and University of Saskatchewan.

One of the world's largest efforts to find effective COVID-19 treatments will evaluate the impact of REGN-COV2, an investigational antibody cocktail, on mortality, hospital stays, and the need for ventilation.

How does it do it?

The discovery links to an immunoglobin antibody in the blood.

Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine & Epidemiology, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, added, "Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen the power of randomized trials to provide rigorous assessment of potential treatments".

When the VH component of an antibody fuses with the tail region of the immunoglobulin, the drug Ab8 produced.

UAE, Israel to normalize relations in White House ceremony
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Like the Pitt and UPMC vaccine candidate PittCoVacc that delivers an immunization through a spiky Band-Aid-like patch and overcomes the need for needles and refrigeration, the researchers are "thinking outside the box" when it comes to how Ab8 could be administered.

They said the molecule is far smaller than a full-sized antibody, which could allow it to be inhaled or injected just below the skin rather than with standard injection or intravenously, which they said would be another advantage.

Abound Bio, a newly formed UPMC-backed company, has licensed Ab8 for worldwide development. The antibody against Hendra and Nipah viruses has been evaluated in humans and approved for clinical use on a compassionate basis in Australia.

Hospital Services Supervisor Jennifer Crane locates a convalescent plasma sample with COVID-19 antibodies in freezer storage while preparing it for shipment to a local hospital at the Bloodworks Northwest Laboratory during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Renton, Washington, U.S. September 9, 2020. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is taken as bait for the research.

All noted how it appeared to stop the virus from entering cells.

With these results in hand, Ralph Baric, PhD, and his UNC colleagues tested ab8 at varying concentrations in mice using a modified version of SARS-CoV-2. The rodents that were treated with the drug had significantly less (10-fold less of the amount) of infectious virus compared to those that were not treated. They have found this drug to be largely effective in the prevention and treatment of infections.

John Mellors, who co-authored the report with Xianglei Liu of Pitt, said Ab8 could be useful to prevent COVID-19 infection in humans.

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