The Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has completed a groundbreaking scientific development, identifying an antibody that neutralizes the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry.
“I am proud of the Biological Institute staff, who have made a major breakthrough,” said Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday after visiting the Ness Ziona-based lab. “Jewish creativity and ingenuity brought about this amazing achievement.”
This scientific breakthrough has three key parameters: The antibody is monoclonal, new and refined, and contains an exceptionally low proportion of harmful proteins; the institute has demonstrated the ability of the antibody to neutralize the novel coronavirus; and the antibody was specifically tested on the aggressive coronavirus.
“Based on comprehensive scientific publications from around the globe, it appears that the IIBR is the first institution to achieve a scientific breakthrough that meets all three of the aforementioned parameters simultaneously,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement on behalf of the institute.
IIBR is now working to patent its antibody and secure a contract for its commercial development. All legal procedures will be coordinated with the Defense Ministry.
“It should be emphasized that this scientific achievement has the potential to progress towards a treatment for corona patients, and that it is not a vaccine for wide use,” the statement continued.
“This is an important milestone, which will be followed by a series of complex tests and a process of regulatory approvals,” the statement said. “This being said, the scientists at the institute believe that the nature of this breakthrough could lead to a shortening of the process, which could span over several months.”
Last month, IIBR announced that it had begun testing a COVID-19 vaccine prototype on rodents. The institute was personally asked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join the fight against the pandemic in early February.
The institute is also involved in plasma collection from people who have recovered from being infected with the new coronavirus, in the hope that this might help research.