Highly potent neutralizing antibodies may be the key to laying a foundation for COVID-19 treatment, according to a Chinese research team led by Peking University. 


The worldwide race against the clock to develop an effective coronavirus vaccine has been underway since early 2020. University research teams, public and private research groups and multinational pharmaceutical companies have been putting their heads together to come up with viable solutions. In May, Peking University’s Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics announced they have been working in collaboration with hospitals and other research groups to unsheath potent neutralizing antibodies, and that such antibodies show promising results in fighting COVID-19 in animal studies, in which the antibody proved effective in protecting healthy mice from coronavirus.


The study was originally published online in the scientific journal Cell and is titled “Potent neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 identified by high-throughput single-cell sequencing of convalescent patients’ B cells.”


Neutralizing antibodies are generated by the human immune system and are able to prevent viruses from infecting cells. Researchers have discovered that this neutralizing antibody may provide a cure for COVID-19 and may also be effective short-term prevention, an announcement that marks a major milestone in the fight against the global pandemic. 


According to the research team led by Sunney Xie, these neutralizing antibodies could be used to develop drugs for both a treatment and a preventative vaccine. Clinical trials are currently beginning, and Xie believes that if the epidemic resurfaces later in the year, the neutralizing antibody may be ready for widespread use by that time. 


Despite the efficacy of plasma therapy to fight COVID-19, the overall supply of plasma is low, and the necessary component in plasma is the neutralizing antibody. Xie and his team found multiple highly potent neutralizing antibodies by collecting the blood of recovered patients with the aim of finding pure antibodies to inject into patients rather than plasma.