How AU is using antibodies to 'block the front door’ for coronavirus

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 9:02 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta University Medical Center is working on a new drug that gets antibodies to fight COVID-19.

The antibodies will not eliminate the virus but could prevent it from spreading.

According to AU Health infectious disease expert Dr. Jose Vazquez, antibodies could be a new treatment for people with active coronavirus infections.

“They are called neutralizing antibodies. What they do is they neutralize the virus,” Vazquez said.

He says the coronavirus has spikes called S proteins that attach to our bodies using ACE 2 receptors.

“This protein bulge sticks to the receptor, but that’s how it gets into the body,” he said.

He says from there, replication begins.

But the new treatment gives patients antibodies against the virus, blocking the attachment between the virus and the receptor.

“If we block this, then the virus can’t get into the tissue, and if the virus can’t get into the tissue, it dies,” he said.

Two people have already enrolled for the treatment, and they have seen positive results.

“One has already gone home and the other one is still in the hospital but improving gradually,” Vazquez said.

For the next couple of months, AU Health will be enrolling as many patients as possible and following up to check results.

He says the hope is that this treatment will expand for people who are not sick enough to be in the hospital -- preventing more severe infections and lowering hospitalizations.

“If we can block the front door and make it go somewhere else, then not that many viruses gain access into our body,” he said.

“Diminishing severity of outpatient COVID is going to be the key to salvaging our health care.”

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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