Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that completely and specifically neutralizes SARS-CoV-2. This antibody component is 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody and has been used to construct a drug known as Ab8 for potential use as a therapeutic and prophylactic against SARS-CoV2-2. The tiny antibody component is the variable, heavy chain (VH) domain of an immunoglobulin.
It was found by searching in a pool of more than 100 billion potential candidates using the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as bait. Ab8 is created when the VH domain is fused to a part of the immunoglobulin tail region, adding the immune functions of a full-size antibody without the bulk. Ab8 was tested using live SARS-CoV-2 and at very low concentrations it blocked the virus from entering the cells. Even at the lowest doses, Ab8 decreased by 10-fold the amount of infectious virus in those mice compared to their untreated counterparts. It was also effective in hamsters.
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