A top Beijing-based university’s specialised research team has said it is developing a drug that could shorten the recovery time for Covid-19 patients and offer short-term immunity from the pathogen.
The drug is being developed and tested by the prestigious Peking University’s Beijing Advanced Innovation Centre for Genomics (BAICG), which has successfully tested the experimental drug on animals.
“A joint research team led by Sunney Xie has successfully identified multiple highly potent neutralising antibodies against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of the respiratory disease COVID-19, from convalescent plasma by high-throughput single-cell sequencing,” a Peking University statement said on Monday.
According to the research published in the online medical journal Cell, the “potent neutralising antibody could be used to develop drugs for both therapeutic intervention and prophylactic (preventive) protection against SARS-CoV-2”.
“If the Covid-19 epidemic reappears in the winter, our neutralising antibody might be available by that time,” Xie said in the statement.
“When we injected antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500,” Xie separately told the news agency AFP.
“That means this potential drug has (a) therapeutic effect,” he added.
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.
Meanwhile, three Covid-19 vaccines have entered phase II clinical trials in Beijing, a municipal health official has said.
Separately, five innovative drugs have also been approved for clinical trials and all of them have entered phase II clinical studies, Xu Qiang, head of the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission.
Beijing, Xu was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency, will accelerate the research and development of diagnostic reagents, drugs, vaccines and medical equipment and support pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturers in expanding their capacity to meet the increasing demands.
The second phase of the clinical trials is expected to be completed successively beginning in July
A total of 2,036 volunteer participants have been inoculated for the second phase of clinical trials and researchers are assessing whether or not the vaccines are safe and effective, Xinhua reported.