The Israel Institute for Biological Research has isolated a key coronavirus antibody that successfully neutralized aggressive coronavirus in lab tests, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced after visiting the lab in Ness Ziona on May 4.
Bennett said this is a “significant breakthrough” toward a possible treatment for the Covid-19 virus.
In coordination with Magen David Adom, the IIBR has been collecting blood plasma from Israelis who recovered from Covid-19. It is expected that antibodies in the plasma can form the basis of an effective treatment.
IIBR Director Shmuel Shapira told Bennett that the antibody they isolated is monoclonal, which means it comes from a single cell and is potentially more effective at neutralizing the virus than are polyclonal antibodies derived from two or more cells.
After the monoclonal antibody is patented, an international manufacturer will be sought to mass produce it, according to Bennett’s statement. To begin the regulatory approval process, the IIBR antibody will undergo several months of additional testing.
The governmental research institute, which normally works on defense projects, is now directing all its efforts toward novel coronavirus research, including developing both a treatment and a vaccine.
The IIBR is working with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot on strategies to battle the coronavirus pandemic and is collaborating with three Israeli companies in developing a vaccine. Furthermore, it is collaborating with Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center on a new method to detect the virus through breath analysis.
One of the IIBR’s latest studies indicates that hotter temperatures this summer will neutralize any virus particles on plastic and metal surfaces within hours.