Chinese scientists believe new drug can stop pandemic without vaccine

Sunney Xie, director of the Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, told AFP that the drug has been successful at the animal testing stage. — AFP

China where outbreak first emerged late last year before spreading across the world, prompting an international race to find treatments and vaccines, has been developing a drug which is believed to be effective to bring the coronavirus pandemic to a halt.

Scientists at China’s prestigious Peking University have tested a drug that offers short-term immunity from the virus and seems functioning well in recovering infected ones.

Director of the university’s Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, Sunney Xie explained to AFP that the drug was working effectively and has been proven successful in recovering virus-hit patients as it was good at animal testing stage. While talking to AFP Xie told “When we injected neutralising antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500 which means this potential drug has [a] therapeutic effect.”

The drug uses neutralising antibodies — produced by the human immune system to prevent the virus infecting cells — which Xie’s team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients.

A study on the team’s research, published on Sunday in the scientific journal Cell, suggests that using the antibodies provides a potential “cure” for the disease and shortens recovery time.

On Sunday, a study published in the Scientific Journal Cell, acknowledges that antibodies provide a possible treatment for this pandemic and its encouraging result shows it shortens recovery time.

Xie further acknowledged that his team in order to find antibody, has been working tirelessly day and night.

“Our expertise is single-cell genomics rather than immunology or virology. When we realised that the single-cell genomic approach can effectively find the neutralising antibody we were thrilled.” He further added.

Xie emphasized that the production of the drug must accomplished later this year and in time for any potential winter outbreak of the pandemic. The virus making a worst infectious history all around the world, has infected 4.8 million people including more than 315,000 expired.

Xie added that planning for the clinical trial is underway and we make it reach to the Australia including other virus-hit countries as China’s cases have already dwindled.

“The hope is these neutralised antibodies can become a specialised drug that would stop the pandemic,” he said.

It is not a new approach using antibodies in drug treatment, this process has been encouraging in treating many other viruses such as HIV, Ebola and MERS- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Xie along his team had started the their research since outbreak in China started before it got the world worried with its infectious arrival.

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