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Butantan develops serum for the novel coronavirus

Equipment used to purify antibodies extracted from horse blood plasma


The Butantan Institute has completed development of a serum to combat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. More than 2,000 vials are ready to begin human safety and efficacy trials, says biochemist Ana Marisa Chudzinski-Tavassi, director of innovation at the institute. The result of five months of work, the serum is made from a virus inactivated by radiation in horses. In response to the virus, the animals produce immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, which are then extracted from their blood and purified. According to Chudzinski-Tavassi, the serum showed satisfactory results in cell neutralization tests and proved safe in mice and rabbits. Butantan is now seeking authorization from the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA) to test its safety and effectiveness in humans. If the serum demonstrates the expected effectiveness in the next stage of testing, it could be used to treat people with early symptoms of the disease to stop the infection from progressing, says the researcher. “The serum could help a lot, since we still have no effective antivirals against the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Chudzinski-Tavassi.