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Coronavirus | China tests drug that aims to stop pandemic sans vaccine

Researchers at Peking University conducting tests in their lab in Beijing.

Researchers at Peking University conducting tests in their lab in Beijing.   | Photo Credit: AFP

‘It shortens recovery time and offers short-term immunity’

A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to a halt.

The outbreak first emerged in China late last year before spreading across the world, prompting an international race to find treatments and vaccines.

A drug being tested by scientists at China’s prestigious Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the virus, researchers said.

Sunney Xie, director of the university’s Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, told AFP that the drug has been successful at the animal testing stage.

“When we injected neutralising antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500,” said Mr. Xie. “That means this potential drug has (a) therapeutic effect.”

The drug uses neutralising antibodies — produced by the human immune system to prevent the virus infecting cells — which Mr. Xie’s team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients.

A study on their research, published in the journal Cell, suggests that using the antibodies provides a potential “cure” for the disease and shortens recovery time.

“Our expertise is single-cell genomics rather than immunology or virology. When we realised that the single-cell genomic approach can effectively find the neutralising antibody we were thrilled.”

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 1:25:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/coronavirus-china-tests-drug-that-aims-to-stop-pandemic-sans-vaccine/article31626909.ece

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