Israel says it successfully isolated key coronavirus antibody

Rosie Perper

The Israeli government’s research institute says it has successfully isolated a key coronavirus antibody — a discovery that could pave the way for a possible treatment for the novel coronavirus.Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennet said in a Monday statement that the Israel Institute for Biological Research briefed him on the “significant breakthrough” when he visited its facilities earlier that day.According to the statement, the institute isolated a “monoclonal neutralizing antibody” that can “neutralize [disease] inside carriers’ bodies.”However, there has been no definitive study showing that having antibodies means people are immune to getting the coronavirus.Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Israeli government’s research institute has isolated a key coronavirus antibody that could lead to a possible coronavirus treatment, the country’s defense minister said Monday.

In a joint statement with the Israel Institute for Biological Research, published Monday night, Naftali Bennet said the agency briefed him with its “significant breakthrough” when he visited the facilities on Monday. 

According to the statement, the institute has isolated a “monoclonal” antibody that can “neutralize [disease] inside carriers’ bodies.”

Antibodies are proteins created by the body’s immune system to fight invading threats.

Professor Shmuel Shapiro, the institute’s director, said the antibody is being patented, and the next phase of research includes contacting international manufacturers to mass-produce the formula for commercial use. 

According to Reuters, a monoclonal antibody is derived from a single recovered cell. Other facilities researching antibodies have so far developed treatments from polyclonal antibodies, which are made from multiple cells, the news agency said.

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A health worker in protective gear takes a blood sample from a woman to test for the coronavirus on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that the institute had been making “significant progress” toward finding an antibody as well as a vaccine for the coronavirus, which has so far infected more than 3 million people and killed more than 251,000 worldwide.

The Israel Institute for Biological Research has also been testing a separate, antibody-based vaccine prototype on rodents since last month, Reuters reported.

But antibodies don’t necessarily mean immunity

Countries around the world have been conducting antibody testing, which is considered a key step toward lifting lockdown measures as it may offer a glimpse at who may be immune to the coronavirus, Business Insider’s Andrew Dunn reported.

According to the World Health Organization, data suggests no more than 2% to 3% of the population have the antibodies to show they were infected by the coronavirus.

However, there has still been no definitive study showing that having antibodies means people are immune from getting infected with the coronavirus, and there have been some reports of potential reinfection.

So far, researchers also do not know how long any antibody protection can last for this coronavirus.

Antibody research may lead to the development of a potential coronavirus treatment while companies around the world are working at record speed to create a vaccine, which some researchers say is the only way to fully halt the spread of COVID-19. 

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