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Hybrid coronavirus antibodies

A promising strategy for preventing and treating the novel coronavirus has been successfully tested in mice by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, USA. A team led by Zhiqiang An developed a hybrid antibody, highly capable of neutralizing SARS-CoV-2, that can be applied via a nasal spray. The researchers studied coronavirus antibodies produced by healthy people, and among the most promising, identified immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies capable of recognizing the spike protein that allows the virus to invade human cells. The IgGs are highly specialized at identifying each type of invader, but they are produced very slowly. An’s group decided to merge the part of the IgG that targets the virus with another type of antibody, called immunoglobulin M (IgM), which is less accurate but is very quickly synthesized. When applied six hours before or after infection, the hybrid antibodies dramatically reduced the amount of virus in the lungs of mice compared to others treated with a placebo (Nature, June 3). One company already has plans to test the antibodies in humans.