New treatment could work like a vaccine

There has been a lot of discussion about treatments and vaccines and if you are like me, you probably have been a little overwhelmed and confused by all of the possibilities getting thrown out.

But there is one type of new treatment that is likely to help us bridge the gap until we are able to distribute a proven vaccine.

In fact, it might even work like a temporary vaccine.

You may already know about harvesting antibodies which are the things your body makes once you are infected with something and that help to fight off the infection.

One proposed coronavirus treatment is to harvest antibodies from individuals who have recovered and then transfer those into people who have been infected. 

This can be a slow and intensive process though and so one doctor and a team of researchers is now proposing an alternative method: creating the antibodies synthetically.

Dr. Jacob Glanville, president of Distributed Bio, a computational immunoengineering group that makes antibody therapeutics and vaccines, has been working with a team to synthetically “creat[e] an antibody therapy to neutralize and therefore cure the novel coronavirus in patients who need it.”

The researchers used antibodies that were proven effective 18 years ago in the fight against a cousin of the coronavirus, SARS. They found five antibodies that after being modified were able to bind to receptors of the new coronavirus allowing them to prevent further infection.

This type of therapy could be used for patients who have recently been infected by the coronavirus but it could also be used as a preventative measure for doctors and nurses working on the front lines since it provides temporary protection (protection would last about 8 to 10 weeks).

By synthetically manufacturing the antibodies, they can deliver a more efficient treatment process.

The other benefit to a treatment like this is that it begins to work instantly whereas the vaccine will take several weeks to offer protection.

This treatment is very exciting but we likely will not see something like this being offered to the public until the fall. It first has to be tested by the military and then moved into laboratories to assess its safety and toxicity. And then after all of that there will need to be human trials to determine things like the proper dosage.

Treatments like these are one of the main reasons why I feel like we will be able to get somewhat back to normal by the time the fall comes around.

Medical facilities won’t be overwhelmed and mortality rates and even symptoms will be greatly reduced if these are successful. In short, the coronavirus will still be a problem but a much less scary problem.

The big question will just be who will these treatments be available to and how easily will people be able to access them?

Obviously, there will be priority for people on the front lines, sick patients, and probably the immunocompromised.

But I wonder if a treatment like this could ever be available similar to how vaccine is available to the public?

My thinking is probably not but such a treatment could be useful for other people who may be more at risk of contracting the virus, such as essential workers who are forced to do a lot of traveling.



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