Scientists say 17-year-old blood sample yields promising antibodies for COVID-19

The search for COVID-19 therapies has turned to an antibody that was first identified back in 2003, in a blood sample from a patient who recovered from a similar coronavirus-based disease.

  • In a paper published today by the journal Nature, a team including researchers from the University of Washington reports that the antibody, known as S309, can neutralize the virus that causes COVID-19 in lab experiments. “We still need to show that this antibody is protective in living systems, which has not yet been done,” David Veesler, a biochemist at the UW School of Medicine who’s one of the paper’s senior authors, said in a news release.
  • S309 was one of several promising monoclonal antibodies identified in the memory B cells of a patient who survived Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. No cases of SARS have been reported since 2004. Like COVID-19, SARS was caused by a type of coronavirus, which led researchers to check for therapeutic crossover effects.
  • Combining the S309 antibody with other antibodies identified in the SARS patient’s blood sample enhanced the neutralization effect on the COVID-19 virus, known as SARS-CoV-2. Medications that make use of the antibodies are now on a fast-track development and testing path at California-based Vir Biotechnology in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, in preparation for clinical trials.

Veesler and Davide Corti are senior authors of the Nature study, titled “Cross-Neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 by a human monoclonal SARS-CoV Antibody.” Lead authors are Dora Pinto, Young-Jun Park, Martina Beltramello and Alexandra Walls. There are 19 additional co-authors.

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