Instant immunity against covid. This is the promise of the new antibody-based treatment developed in the United Kingdom by University College London Hospitals (UCLH) in collaboration with the British laboratory AstraZeneca, already known for its work on an anticovid vaccine.
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Antibodies against protein S
The principle of this drug? Like the Regeneron treatment, which Donald Trump benefited from in October, it is a cocktail of long-acting antibodies. These molecules of the immune system capable of recognizing an enemy microorganism were created in the laboratory.
Specifically, they target the S protein (or Spike protein) located on the surface of the virus and which allows it to attach to human cells. By targeting this protein, the antibodies can block the attachment of the virus to the cells, and therefore a priori block the infection.
For hospitalized and vulnerable contact cases
The advantage of this treatment is that it would confer instant immunity against the disease. It could therefore be administered as an emergency treatment to hospitalized patients. And its action could also be preventive, in particular to protect vulnerable people if they are in contact.
“If we can prove that this treatment works and prevents people exposed to the virus from developing covid-19, it would be an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to combat this terrible virus.“confides to Guardian Dr. Catherine Houlihan, virologist at UCLH, in charge of the Storm Chaser study.
Six months to one year of effectiveness
And according to those responsible for the trial, the cocktail of antibodies could be effective for a period varying from six months to a year.
Its impact could therefore be considerable on the number of deaths linked to covid since it would in particular limit the risk of an epidemic in structures that bring together a large number of people at risk, such as nursing homes.
Not before spring 2021
But so far, only 10 participants in the clinical trial have received the injection. Researchers now need to monitor the health of these participants to see whether or not they get the disease, compared to a control group that received a placebo.
If approved, the antibody cocktail can be offered to people exposed to covid within eight days of the risk situation. But we must still be patient: those in charge of the trial are counting on a marketing at best in March or April 2021, until the clinical trial is completed and the health authorities validate it.
In the meantime, vaccination coupled with respect for barrier gestures remains the best protection against the coronavirus.