Israel Institute for Biological Research has isolated a monoclonal antibody that can neutralise Covid-19, but it is unclear if the vaccine has been tested on humans.
Israel has isolated a key coronavirus antibody at its primary biological research centre, Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday. He called it a “significant breakthrough” towards a possible treatment for Covid-19.
In an official statement, Bennet claimed that the “monoclonal neutralising antibody” developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) “attacks the virus and neutralizes it” inside the virus carrier’s body.
Monoclonal antibodies, as the name suggests, are cloned from a single recovered cell. Thus, they are much easier to create and use, as opposed to polyclonal antibodies which will have to be derived from multiple cells.
In typical antibody vaccines, neutralisation occurs when the laboratory-developed antibodies mimic the body’s natural immune response and attack the virus when exposed to it.
According to the Jerusalem Post, IIBR has completed the development phase of the antibody formula and is now looking to manufacture it.
The statement quotes IIBR Director Shmuel Shapira as saying the antibody formula was being patented, after which an international manufacturer would be sought to mass-produce it.
The IIBR, a secretive research unit working directly under the office of Israel’s Prime Minister, has not released any further information about the vaccine itself. If effective, the development of an antibody is very promising, and this vaccine would join several other candidates that are already being touted as potential vaccines for Covid-19.
However, most potential vaccines are currently in human trials. Though Shapira said mass production is about to begin, it is unclear whether the vaccine has been tested for safety or efficacy on humans.
IIBR is a unit that works to counter biological threats against Israel and has been taking the lead in order to develop a treatment and vaccine for the coronavirus, including plasma collection that includes the testing of blood from those who recovered from Covid-19.
Israel was one of the first countries to close its borders and impose increasingly stringent restrictions on movement to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus. It has reported 16,246 cases and 235 deaths due to Covid-19.