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Scripps Researchers Uncover Several Potent Antibodies To Fight Coronavirus

An undated artist rendering of the coronavirus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
An undated artist rendering of the coronavirus.

Scripps researchers have found several highly potent antibodies from the blood of positive coronavirus patients in San Diego.

The study was published June 15 in the journal Science.

Lead researcher and microbiologist Dennis Burton said the antibodies were effective in animal models.


“We could show the antibodies we made stopped the animals from losing any weight. They really prevented disease in the animals. So we know these antibodies work,” he said. “It bodes well for vaccines and using the antibodies as preventive drugs.”

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Burton said these antibodies could be given to patients in the early stages of coronavirus illness to help the body fight off the infection. Or, they could provide early protection for frontline workers, such as those nurses and doctors, or the vulnerable, such as the elderly.

“We’ve isolated single pure antibodies, so it’s a good position to be in," Burton said. "We can just make as many antibodies as we want now.”

The most exciting part of the research for him is that discovering these antibodies took scientists less than seven weeks, Burton said. It shows that the pace of science is meeting the demands of a global pandemic, he said.

“That discovery gives us hope that we will eventually find broadly neutralizing antibodies that provide at least partial protection against all or most SARS coronaviruses, which should be useful if another one jumps to humans,” Burton said.


Many virus experts acknowledge that it will likely take more than just a few antibodies to fight off COVID-19. Since viruses mutate, Burton said it's critical to find more potent antibodies that can target the virus in the long-term.