A high-stakes race is underway to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Meanwhile, scientists are looking for ways to alleviate symptoms in infected patients.
A leading Russian microbiologist has said that intravenously administered antibodies are the only thing that can relieve coronavirus symptoms.
Alexander Ginzburg, director of the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, believes that a patient’s condition can only be alleviated by the antibodies produced by the body’s immune system to fight a specific viral infection.
The 68-year-old says he was referring to monoclonal antibodies (virus-repelling immunoglobulins synthesised in a lab from cloned immune cells).
Another method used to treat coronavirus patients is the transfusion of convalescent plasma, the liquid part of blood collected from recovered patients who already have antibodies. Convalescent plasma therapy is still in clinical trials, although early data shows it helps reduce mortality from COVID-19.
Ginzburg explained that a vaccine is prophylactic while antibodies are therapeutic (they fight a disease that has already been detected).
“This means that if a person has gotten sick, they better have antibodies administered to block the virus instead of eating walnuts or peanuts,” Ginzburg said, adding that antibodies are currently administered intravenously, using a drip.
His comments came in the wake of reports that coronavirus patients can ease their symptoms with greater concentrations of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE2, in their blood.
The receptor is effectively a protein that provides the entry point for the coronavirus to invade human cells and replicate. It exists naturally in various plant parts and products, such as grapes, red wine, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, and peanut skins.
The state-run Gamaleya Institute has developed, together with the Defence Ministry, Russia’s first vaccine against the coronavirus. The vaccine, which is in the final phase of clinical trials, is scheduled to be registered as soon as next Wednesday.
Russia’s technology is a vector vaccine based on the DNA of a SARS-CoV-2 type adenovirus, a common cold virus. Researchers embedded genetic material from the coronavirus into the harmless carrier virus to deliver small parts of the pathogen into human body and stimulate an immune response.
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