Scientists Test First COVID-19 Antibody Treatment on Humans

The first clinical trial for a COVID-19 antibody treatment for humans is now underway.

The treatment was developed from the blood of a COVID-19 survivor who recovered from the disease back in February, at which point his immune system developed an immunity to the coronavirus, MIT Technology Review reports.

The idea is to manufacture the underlying antibodies that provide that protection against the virus and administer them to others to grant a temporary boost in immunity.

There are several teams and pharmaceutical companies working on antibody treatments. This one, a joint project by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and the biotech firm AbCellera, is the first to be tested on human participants. That’s an important milestone in making sure that it not only helps block the coronavirus but also that it doesn’t hurt patients along the way.

If everything goes according to plan, then MIT Tech Review reports that the treatment could be available to the public by the end of the year.

That’s a long time to wait, but it’s still an above-average pace for the development of a brand-new antiviral treatment. Because the coronavirus is still poorly-understood by research scientists and drug developers, many of the teams working on vaccines and other antibody treatments are still in the early, preclinical stages of their work.

There are still many challenges ahead for this experimental drug. There’s no guarantee that this or future tests will succeed — clinical trials often don’t — and difficult questions remain regarding who gets to take the first, limited batches of the drug if it is proven to be effective.

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