A team of Chinese scientists has isolated several antibodies that they say are "extremely effective" at blocking the ability of the new coronavirus to enter cells -- a discovery which could be helpful in treating or preventing COVID-19.
Zhang Linqi and his team in Beijing say a drug made with antibodies could be more effective than current approaches like using plasma - which contain antibodies but is restricted by blood type.
(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) TSINGHUA PROFESSOR ZHANG LINQI, SAYING:
"The importance of antibodies has been proven in the world of medicine for decades now. They can be used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases. So we have reason to believe that these antibodies we have discovered can be extremely effective on coronavirus patients for both prevention and treatment."
Zhang and his team began analyzing antibodies in January - using the blood taken from recovered COVID-19 patients.
The team has developed their testing and are now focused on identifying and possibly combining the most powerful antibodies to mitigate the risk of the new coronavirus mutating.
This means the antibodies are not a vaccine but could potentially be given to at-risk people with the aim of preventing them from contracting COVID-19.
If all goes well, interested developers could mass produce them for testing, first on animals and eventually on humans.