PITTSBURGH, PA —scientists have isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that neutralizes the coronavirus. The antibody component, 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody, has been used to construct a drug—known as Ab8—for potential use as a therapeutic agent against the virus.
The researchers report in the scientific journal Cell that Ab8 is highly effective in preventing and treating the virusin mice and hamsters. Its tiny size not only increases its potential for diffusion in tissues to better neutralize the virus, but also makes it possible to administer the drug by alternative routes, including inhalation.
Ab8 also does not bind to human cells, which scientists consider a good sign that it won’t have negative side-effects in people.
“Ab8 not only has potential as therapy for COVID-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said co-author, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at and Pitt.
“Antibodies of larger size have worked against other infectious diseases and have been well tolerated, giving us hope that it could be an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19 and for
protection of those who have never had the infection and are not immune.”
Ab8's small size might allow it to be given as an inhaled drug or intradermally, rather than intravenously through an IV drip, like most monoclonal antibodies currently in development.