Researchers at Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, in alliance with China-based firm Harbour BioMed, have identified a fully human monoclonal antibody with activity against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

According to the team, the antibody could prevent SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting cultured cells.

The Nature Communications journal published the findings.

The discovery could facilitate a fully human antibody for the treatment and prevention of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.

Utrecht University research leader Berend-Jan Bosch said: “This research builds on the work our groups have done in the past on antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV that emerged in 2002/2003.

“Using this collection of SARS-CoV antibodies, we identified an antibody that also neutralises infection of SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells. Such a neutralising antibody has potential to alter the course of infection in the infected host, support virus clearance or protect an uninfected individual that is exposed to the virus.”

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The antibody allegedly attaches to a domain conserved in SARS-CoV-2, as well as SARS-CoV, indicating its neutralising activity against both viruses.

This mechanism could reduce diseases caused by any future-emerging related coronaviruses.

Harbour BioMed founding chief scientific officer Frank Grosveld said: “This discovery provides a strong foundation for additional research to characterise this antibody and begin development as a potential Covid-19 treatment.

“The antibody used in this work is ‘fully human,’ allowing development to proceed more rapidly and reducing the potential for immune-related side effects.”

Therapeutic antibodies are commonly developed in other species and then humanised. Harbour BioMed’s H2L2 transgenic mouse technology was leveraged to generate this anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody.

Researchers require further analysis to assess the antibody’s ability to protect or mitigate the severity of disease in humans.