TAU Researchers Discover Antibody Combo that Fights COVID-19

Written on | ,

The cocktail, which could treat and temporarily prevent the coronavirus, is advancing to clinical trials

Researchers at Tel Aviv University identified a combination of COVID-19 antibodies that can serve as both medication for patients and preventive treatment for high-risk populations.  The antibody cocktail will be tested in clinical trials over the next few months. Similarly, TAU has submitted a patent application for the antibodies discovered by the researchers.

The scientific breakthrough was achieved by Dr. Natalia Freund and PhD student Michael Mor at the Laboratory of Human Antibody Research at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine. The results of the study are under revision in the PLOS Pathogens journal.

הדוקטורנט מיכאל מור בפעולה

PhD student Michael Mor

Another important find in the study was that asymptomatic COVID-19 sufferers or those who had mild symptoms developed a weaker antibody reaction, and therefore may contract the disease again. By contrast, all severely ill patients analyzed in the study developed neutralizing antibodies that are likely to protect them from reinfection.

Dr. Freund and her team sequenced thousands of antibodies produced in the bodies of Israeli COVID-19 patients. The researchers were able to isolate and characterize six antibodies derived from the blood of two severely ill patients. They then proved that combinations of three antibodies at a time are effective against COVID-19, providing natural immunity. The researchers found that the blood’s capacity for neutralizing the virus comes from several types of antibodies that simultaneously attack the virus, and the mix neutralizes the COVID-19 virus.

“Since the antibodies are natural and remain stable in the blood, one injection can protect against COVID-19 for several weeks, or even several months,” says Freund. “Our vision is that in the future, the cocktail will be used to treat COVID-19 patients – like the experimental cocktail administered to U.S. President Trump, or as a preventive measure for high-risk populations and medical personnel – until the much-awaited vaccine finally arrives. This cocktail was developed naturally by the patients’ immune systems, which means that it is probably safe for use,” say the researchers.

The team

The team

In the second stage of the project, the researchers tried to isolate specific antibodies that stop the virus from binding to the human cell and replicating itself inside the cell. They identified six different antibodies, obtained from two severely ill participants, and proved that these antibodies are effective in both treating and preventing infection in cell cultures.

The research began in April 2020, soon after the pandemic reached Israel. Dr. Freund and her team studied 18 of Israel’s earliest COVID-19 patients. “One question we asked was whether there was any difference between mild and severe cases – with regard to both the quality and quantity of the anti-viral antibodies produced by the immune system. We found a significant statistical difference between the two groups of patients in the ability of their antibodies to neutralize COVID-19: Only a small portion of the mildly ill participants developed neutralizing antibodies, and some developed no antibodies whatsoever. Thus, we may assume that people who were infected but remained asymptomatic or developed very mild symptoms, may possibly contract the disease a second time. The blood of all severely ill patients, on the other hand, contained neutralizing antibodies that will probably protect them from reinfection.”

Many experts took part in the project: participating patients were recruited with the help of Dr. David Hagin, Director of Allergy and Immunology at the Tel Aviv Sourasky (Ichilov) Medical Center and Dr. Oren Zimhony, Head of Infectious Diseases at the Kaplan Medical Center. Genetic sequencing of immune cells was conducted in collaboration with the Israeli startup immunai and sequence analysis was done with the help of Dr. Gur Yaari of Bar-Ilan University. The antibodies were characterized in collaboration with Prof. Jonathan Gershoni and Dr. Oren Kobiler of Tel Aviv University. Pseudo-viral neutralization assays were run with the assistance of Dr. Meital Gal-Tanamy and Dr. Moshe Dessau of Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee. Neutralization tests for the cocktail of antibodies against the live virus were run in collaboration with Dr. Ben Croker of the University of California, San Diego.

Related posts

COVID-19 Immunity Varies Among Genders and Age Groups

July 26, 2021

New study found differences between women and men in the level of COVID-19 antibodies

July 15, 2021

How Will We Brave the Post-COVID Era?

May 31, 2021

British Variant 45% More Contagious than Original Virus

April 28, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccinations at TAU

March 24, 2021

Covid-19 Vaccination of Nursing Mothers May Protect Babies

March 24, 2021

Academic First Responders

January 14, 2021

TAU Study Proves that Light Can Kill Coronavirus

December 14, 2020

COVID-19 Takes TAU’s Legal Clinics into High Gear

December 7, 2020

Parents show love less during COVID-19: TAU Study

December 2, 2020

Study: Women Suffer More from COVID-related Orofacial Pain

November 12, 2020

Global First: Center for Combating Pandemics

October 22, 2020

Immunity Memory Cells Stay Stable Over Time After Recovery From COVID-19

October 12, 2020

TAU Joint Study: COVID-19 Deaths Dive on Weekends

September 10, 2020

TAU Wins 3M Grant to Accelerate COVID-19 Vaccine Development

September 9, 2020

TAU Inaugurates Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research

September 8, 2020

New school for Biomedicine and Cancer Research at Tel Aviv University

August 13, 2020

TAU Researcher Invents Environmentally-Friendly Sanitizer

August 11, 2020

TAU Researcher Fights Epidemics Both Viral and Virtual

July 23, 2020

Tel Aviv University presents an analysis of the reaction of human antibodies to the coronavirus

July 5, 2020

New TAU study tracks coronavirus spread patterns in Israel

May 21, 2020

Coronavirus bootcamp? New serological test conducted with the IDF

May 19, 2020

TAU partners with pharma company to develop COVID-19 vaccine

May 13, 2020

What about the environment?

May 11, 2020

A world first: TAU to establish multidisciplinary Epidemic Research Center

May 11, 2020

Tel Aviv University joins national Coronavirus testing system

May 7, 2020

TAU lab identifies effective antibodies from recovered Coronavirus patients

May 7, 2020

TAU Student, COVID-19 Sprint Invent Disposable Ventilators to Help Treat Coronavirus Patients

April 28, 2020

TAU to partner with InnoCan Pharma on revolutionary COVID-19 treatment

April 21, 2020

TAU Scientist Awarded U.S. Patent for Novel Coronavirus Vaccine Design

April 19, 2020

Donated Equipment Aids in Urgent Coronavirus Research

April 6, 2020

Tel Aviv University Sets Up Emergency Lab to Expand COVID-19 Testing

April 5, 2020

Students Volunteer to Increase and Improve Coronavirus Testing Across Israel

March 22, 2020

What’s more important? Privacy vs. public health

March 17, 2020

Pursuing the Unknown

Copyright ©  Tel Aviv University Trust. All rights reserved.
Registered charity number 314179.