Israeli researchers discover antibody they say neutralizes COVID-19: Report

The race is on around the globe among researchers and scientists to be the first to develop an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 — and it looks like the winners of that competition could soon be crowned in Israel.

A state-run research laboratory in Israel has announced the discovery of an antibody that specifically targets and neutralizes the coronavirus, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

Coronavirus breakthrough announced

The Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR), which is run by the nation’s Defense Ministry, announced the incredible discovery on Monday via a statement released by the government.

“I am proud of the Biological Institute staff, who have made a major breakthrough,” Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday after a visit to the lab, according to The Jerusalem Post. “Jewish creativity and ingenuity brought about this amazing achievement.”

Forbes reported that, unlike other reported breakthroughs regarding antibodies, this discovery appears to be unique in that it reportedly meets three particularly crucial criteria for success: the antibody has been shown to neutralize the virus, it was specifically tested to work against this particular virus, and it is a monoclonal antibody, meaning it lacks additional proteins that could cause harmful complications in some patients.

“Based on comprehensive scientific publications from around the globe, it appears that the IIBR is the first institution to achieve a scientific breakthrough that meets all three of the aforementioned parameters simultaneously,” the Defense Ministry said in its statement, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The statement further noted: “It should be emphasized that this scientific achievement has the potential to progress towards a treatment for corona patients, and that it is not a vaccine for wide use.”

Netanyahu pledges support

The Times of Israel reported that the ministry and researchers cautioned it would likely still be several months yet before the antibody could be made into a drug suitable for public use.

The institute said it is now in the process of filing for a patent on its discovery. “This is an important milestone, but afterwards comes complicated tests and a process of getting regulatory approval. Per an assessment by the institute’s scientists, this technological breakthrough is poised to shorten the process, which will go on for several months,” they said, according to The Times of Israeli.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Monday pledged $60 million to the joint international effort against the coronavirus, said in a message that “to ensure both the public health and national prosperity, we must all work together on improving diagnostics, accelerating therapies and ultimately developing a vaccine.”

“I am confident that Israel’s leading research institutions, its world-renowned scientists, and our unique culture of innovation can enable us to play an important role in advancing solutions on all three fronts,” Netanyahu added, according to The Times of Israel. “We hope to work with other countries to leverage our unique capabilities to find solutions for the benefit of all.”

This is, depending upon how future tests go, potentially huge news. An antibody that specifically targets and neutralizes the virus without causing any collateral damage to the human body would be an absolute game-changer in terms of the current pandemic.

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