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The new drug is being tested by scientists at China's Peking University Photo: AFP
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Scientists in China believe new drug can stop pandemic 'without vaccine'

20 Comments
By Qian Ye and Matthew Knight

A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the coronavirus pandemic to a halt.

The outbreak first emerged in China late last year before spreading across the world, prompting an international race to find treatments and vaccines.

A drug being tested by scientists at China's prestigious Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the virus, researchers say.

Sunney Xie, director of the university's Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, told AFP that the drug has been successful at the animal testing stage.

"When we injected neutralising antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500," said Xie. "That means this potential drug has (a) therapeutic effect."

The drug uses neutralising antibodies -- produced by the human immune system to prevent the virus infecting cells -- which Xie's team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients.

A study on the team's research, published Sunday in the scientific journal Cell, suggests that using the antibodies provides a potential "cure" for the disease and shortens recovery time.

Xie said his team had been working "day and night" searching for the antibody.

"Our expertise is single-cell genomics rather than immunology or virology. When we realised that the single-cell genomic approach can effectively find the neutralising antibody we were thrilled."

He added that the drug should be ready for use later this year and in time for any potential winter outbreak of the virus, which has infected 4.8 million people around the world and killed more than 315,000.

"Planning for the clinical trial is underway," said Xie, adding it will be carried out in Australia and other countries since cases have dwindled in China, offering fewer human guinea pigs for testing.

"The hope is these neutralised antibodies can become a specialised drug that would stop the pandemic," he said.

China already has five potential coronavirus vaccines at the human trial stage, a health official said last week.

But the World Health Organization has warned that developing a vaccine could take 12 to 18 months.

Scientists have also pointed to the potential benefits of plasma -- a blood fluid -- from recovered individuals who have developed antibodies to the virus enabling the body's defences to attack it.

More than 700 patients have received plasma therapy in China, a process which authorities said showed "very good therapeutic effects".

"However, it (plasma) is limited in supply," Xie said, noting that the 14 neutralising antibodies used in their drug could be put into mass production quickly.

Using antibodies in drug treatments is not a new approach, and it has been successful in treating several other viruses such as HIV, Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Xie said his researchers had "an early start" since the outbreak started in China before spreading to other countries.

Ebola drug Remdesivir was considered a hopeful early treatment for COVID-19 -- clinical trials in the US showed it shortened the recovery time in some patients by a third -- but the difference in mortality rate was not significant.

The new drug could even offer short-term protection against the virus.

The study showed that if the neutralising antibody was injected before the mice were infected with the virus, the mice stayed free of infection and no virus was detected.

This may offer temporary protection for medical workers for a few weeks, which Xie said they are hoping to "extend to a few months".

More than 100 vaccines for COVID-19 are in the works globally, but as the process of vaccine development is more demanding, Xie is hoping that the new drug could be a faster and more efficient way to stop the global march of the coronavirus.

"We would be able to stop the pandemic with an effective drug, even without a vaccine," he said.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


20 Comments
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Hope it is cheap and effective like penicillin was for certain diseases.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Stupidity certainly kills.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Very interesting, and good on these guys. I hope they can come up with a solution to benefit humanity.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Would be nice if it was true, but any news from China should be seen in the context of the CCP controlled media. The CCP policy is to change the narrative from "the virus originated in Wuhan" to "China rescues the world". So take announcements like this with a grain of salt.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Oh yes, let me put something from the CCP inside me"

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Oh yes, let me put something from the CCP inside me"

I know that’s right.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

new drug can stop pandemic

Too bad the virus wasn't contained within Wuhan. Thanks, Chinese government.

a drug it believes has the power to bring the coronavirus pandemic to a halt.

That would amount to a vaccine.

the 14 neutralising antibodies used in their drug could be put into mass production quickly.

Let's hope they do this with super-duper warp speed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

fake news

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Yeah, so, umm..., I don't think I will be looking to China for helping out with this.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

No fake news but there are hundreds of companies saying their product shows efficiency.

And it takes several scientific steps to get to a vaccine like treatment for a drug.

They have not even passed the phase I, which is tot test on a few persons to see if it has real effects and does not kill the patient to start with. And what about side effects.

Magical cure are common these days in the media.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Interesting that the clinical trial is going to be in Australia despite the fact that China is supposed to be all miffed with us over the call for a Covid-19 inquiry.

Personally I don’t care where a cure or a vaccine come from. If it works, I’ll take it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Here we go! Yet another state-sponsored propaganda by CCP. After all the lies and denials, China is trying to play the saviour of the human race. A country run by clowns.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Too much excitement for the presented results, 2500 times reduction of viral titers seems like a lot, but regularly 1000 times reduction is the cutoff value to consider anything worthwhile investigating, lots of drugs that surpass this by much end up being not useful when tried on humans.

And being monoclonal antibodies there is a lot of risk for unforeseen complications, compared with simple chemicals that have well defined actions antibodies have a lot of interactions with the immune system, obviously this would not produce side effects on mice, but trying them on humans is a very delicate thing, sometimes they affect inflammation, coagulation, cause cytokine storms, etc. etc. That is why not so many people are betting on using artificial antibodies.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

StrangerlandToday  09:30 am JST

Very interesting, and good on these guys. I hope they can come up with a solution to benefit humanity.

In this case I am sure they will come up with a solution to benefit the CCP first then humanity second.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

America will do the same.

In this case I am sure they will come up with a solution to benefit the CCP first then humanity second.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Which ever country said What ???.does not matter to me until the human saving antidote is out, it meant nothing to me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The CCP policy is to change the narrative from "the virus originated in Wuhan" to "China rescues the world".

If they save the world, I'll be ok with that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Interesting that the clinical trial is going to be in Australia despite the fact that China is supposed to be all miffed with us over the call for a Covid-19 inquiry.

The Chinese government is miffed. This company may not be. Although in China the government often requires CCP oversight in companies...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Any good truthful news on getting the planet back upright is fine by me, regardless of the source.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They think that they can produce something that will offer protection for a few weeks, maybe, eventually, a few months.

That is a step in the right direction, although nowhere near as good as a vaccine. As the article says, it might be useful for medical workers, and others at high risk. Might be good enough for use in places with large numbers of seniors, large numbers of workers close together, and places like Indian reservations. Hard to see it being used on all 7.7 billion people worldwide, several times a year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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