Tel Aviv University researchers develop “antibody cocktail” to treat and prevent Covid-19

● The antibody cocktail, derived from the blood of Covid-19 patients in Israel, is a safe and natural substance.
● The antibodies are natural and remain stable in the blood, one cocktail injection can supply protection from Covid-19 for several weeks, and even several months.
● The study has also found that mild or asymptomatic patients can get infected with covid a second time. While severe patients develop neutralizing antibodies, providing them with immunization from a second infection.
● The researchers, through Ramot, the Technology Transfer Arm of Tel Aviv University, have filed a patent for the “antibody cocktail” developed in the study.

Research breakthrough:

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have successfully sequenced thousands of antibodies produced in severely infected covid19 patients in Israel. As a result, the research team were able to isolate and characterize six antibodies, derived from the blood of severely ill Covid19 patients, that when combined into two cocktail doses of three antibodies at a time, it produces an effective anti-corona cocktail that provides protection from Corona for up to several months.

The researchers found that the source of the neutralizing effect and ability in the blood of severely ill patients results from several types of antibodies that simultaneously attack different areas of the virus, thus neutralizing it.

This breakthrough study was conducted in the Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Medicine Laboratory of Human Antibody Research, which is headed by Dr. Natalia Freund and assisted by PhD student Michael Mor. The results are currently being examined by the medical journal PLOS Pathogens.

The research process began in April, when Dr. Freund and her team have recruited 18 Corona patients participants in Israel. 10 of them mild or asymptomatic and 8 of them severely ill, who needed hospitalization at Ichilov and Kaplan hospitals. All patients in the study have recovered from Covid19.

“We sought to understand the antibody response to COVID-19 infection and the development of antibodies in patients with no symptoms, mild symptoms and severe symptoms” explains Dr. Freund “In the first phase of the trial, we wanted to examine  the quality and quantity of the anti-viral antibodies produced by the immune system in all cases of symptoms, and their protection abilities and levels against a second infection. To do this, we sequenced thousands of antibodies from all participants, analyzed them in our laboratory, and tested which antibodies were effective in neutralizing the virus. We found a significant statistical difference between the antibodies ability to neutralize the corona virus from severely ill patients, compared to mild or asymptomatic patients. only a small proportion of mild patients developed a neutralizing immune response against the virus, and some did not develop antibodies at all. Therefore it can be assumed that people who have been infected with the virus with mild or no symptoms, have not contracted antibodies and can probably get infected with corona a second time. However, corona patients who have become severely ill, have developed neutralizing antibodies that will probably protect them from a second infection, even if it is not yet clear how long these antibodies will remain in their blood system.”

In the second phase of the study, Dr Freund and her team tested and analyzed the sequenced antibodies and their reaction in a cell culture with the live virus. The team isolated the specific antibodies that do not allow the virus to bind to the cell and replicate within it. “We found six different antibodies that bind to different target areas on the virus.” explained Dr. Freund. “It is not a single mechanism, but rather several complementary mechanisms of action. The antibodies identify various weak spots in the virus, bind these spots and neutralize it”.

The antibodies cocktail can be used both as a remedy for patients who have already been infected with corona (similar to the experimental cocktail given to President Trump), and as a prevention mechanism against contracting the corona disease for at-risk populations and medical staff.

“It is important to emphasize that we did not develop the cocktail, it is naturally developed by patients’ immune system, therefore completely safe to be injected and can provide protection against corona for a period of several weeks and perhaps even up to several months.” explains further Dr. Freund.

The research team, through Ramot, the technology transfer and Commercialization company of Tel Aviv University, have filed a patent for all the antibodies found in the study.

The study was conducted in collaboration with several bodies:

  • The patients were recruited in collaboration with Dr. David Hagin from the Immunology Dept. Of Ichilov Hospital and Dr. Oren Vegetarian from Kaplan Hospital.
  • The sequencing of the antibodies from the patients’ immune cells was conducted in collaboration with the Israeli startup Immunai and Dr. Gur Yaari from Bar Ilan University.
  • The antibodies were characterized in collaboration with Prof. Johnny Gershon and Dr. Oren Koviler from Tel Aviv University.
  • Virus neutralization tests by the cocktail were conducted in collaboration with Dr. Metal Gal-Tanami and Dr. Moshe Dessau of the Faculty of Medicine Of Bar Ilan University.
  • Live virus neutralization tests were conducted in collaboration with Dr. Ben Crocker of the University of California, San Diago.
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