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Coronavirus vaccine: Singapore scientists discover 5 antibodies that can combat COVID-19

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A team of scientists in Singapore has discovered 5 antibodies that can block coronavirus and protect against the key mutations developed in the virus during the pandemic, according to the country's defence research and development organisation, Defence Science Organisation (DSO). PTI reported that the human trials for the lead antibody, AOD01 will begin in the upcoming months after getting approval from the Health Sciences Authority.

Scientists at the DSO have screened "hundreds of thousands" of B cells from the blood samples of the novel coronavirus patients who have recovered since March this year. B cells are the cells that produce antibodies to target pathogens. The scientists managed to isolate the first two antibodies for testing within a month of receiving these blood samples from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and Singapore General Hospital.

Another three effective antibodies were, however, identified three months later through a technique wherein B cells are screened simultaneously with the live virus, allowing antibodies with effective virus neutralising properties to be identified. According to a Channel News Asia report, this technique was developed jointly by the DSO, National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Life Sciences Institute over the past 5 years.

Results prove that these five antibodies "demonstrate neutralisation" against coronavirus, the DSO said. It further added that these antibodies are "all potent in blocking infection and effective against key mutations that have emerged in the virus during the pandemic."

According to Dr Conrad Chan, a senior scientist at DSO, the research phase is now complete and the study is now transitioning into the preclinical phase, where the team is preparing this antibody for production. Dr Chan further said that this will allow clinical trials to be conducted and manufacturing will be ramped up if human trials are successful.


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