Though there is currently no known scientific cure for the disease known as COVID-19, researchers have created an antibody "that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2" in cells, offering the potential for prevention and treatment.
The study, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, notes the antibody, known as 47D11, was created in a lab environment and was able to inhibit the spike protein found in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as SARS-CoV.
"Our data show that 47D11 neutralizes SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 through a yet unknown mechanism that is different from receptor-binding interference," the researchers wrote in the study. "Alternative mechanisms of coronavirus neutralization by RBD-targeting antibodies have been reported including spike inactivation through antibody-induced destabilization of its prefusion structure17, which may also apply for 47D11."
SARS-CoV is also known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which first surfaced in 2002 in China and resulted in the 2002-2004 outbreak of the virus.
The virus, linked to horseshoe bats, resulted in 774 known deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 47D11 antibody is known as a monoclonal antibody, which has been used for cancer drugs previously, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Monoclonal antibodies are defined as "laboratory-produced molecules engineered to serve as substitute antibodies," the Mayo Clinic added.
It's early in the development process of any potential drug, but it's promising nonetheless, the researchers noted.
"...This is the first report of a (human) monoclonal antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2. 47D11 binds a conserved epitope on the spike RBD explaining its ability to cross-neutralize SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, using a mechanism that is independent of receptor-binding inhibition," the researchers wrote.
The researchers continued: "This antibody will be useful for development of antigen detection tests and serological assays targeting SARS-CoV-2. Neutralizing antibodies can alter the course of infection in the infected host supporting virus clearance or protect an uninfected host that is exposed to the virus. Hence, this antibody – either alone or in combination – offers the potential to prevent and/or treat COVID-19, and possibly also other future emerging diseases in humans caused by viruses from the Sarbecovirus subgenus."
As of Tuesday morning, more than 3.6 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, more than 1.18 million of which are in the U.S., the most impacted country on the planet.