Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has said that scientists at the country’s leading biological research institute have achieved a “major breakthrough” in developing an antibody against the new coronavirus, as the researchers finalized the development phase and filed for patent and mass production of the possible treatment.
Bennett visited the laboratories of the Israeli Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office and with the mandate to develop a corona virus vaccine on Monday, in Ness Ziona and was shown the “antibody that the virus attacks in a monoclonal manner and can neutralize it within the bodies of the sick, “said a statement from his office.
The statement said the antibody development was complete and the institute patented the find, “and in the next phase, researchers will approach international companies to produce the antibody on a commercial scale.”
“I am proud of the Institute staff for this great breakthrough,” Bennett said, adding that “their creativity and the Jewish spirit have accomplished this great achievement.”
In March, Israeli daily Ha’aretz, citing medical sources, reported that the Institute’s scientists had achieved a major breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the virus, including better diagnostic ability, antibody production for those who already have the virus and vaccine development.
It was not immediately clear whether the breakthrough presented to Bennett complemented the progress reported at the end of March, and no further details were provided.
The statement also did not specify whether human tests have been performed.
The IIBR was founded in 1952 as part of the Science Corps of the Israel Defense Forces and later became a civilian organization.
It is technically supervised by the Prime Minister’s Office, but is in close contact with the Ministry of Defense.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have ordered the institute to spend funds on February 1 to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.
The Department of Defense in March had denied any breakthrough simply by stating that “if and when there is anything to report, it will be done in an orderly manner,” the Department of Defense told Ha’aretz at the time.
“The biological institute is a world-renowned research and development agency, which relies on experienced researchers and scientists with extensive knowledge and high-quality infrastructure. More than 50 experienced scientists are now working at the institute to research and develop a medical remedy for the virus “had said it.
The normal development process of such a vaccine requires a long process of preclinical animal testing followed by clinical trials. This period allows for a full characterization of side effects and a better understanding of how different populations are affected.
Five shipments of virus samples have arrived in Israel from Japan, Italy and other countries, news portal Ynet reported in February.
They were brought to IIBR by a specially secured courier from the Ministry of Defense and were frozen at -80 degrees Celsius.
Since then there has been intensive work, including by leading experts, to develop the vaccine.
Experts believe that the time it takes to develop a vaccine ranges from a few months to a year and a half.
Numerous research teams around the world are entering the race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Many of them are currently focusing on how the virus presents in animals, the main obstacle being how it changes when it moves from animals to humans.
China published the genetic sequence of the virus in open scientific databases shortly after its outbreak in January, so that research institutes and commercial companies could try to develop treatments and vaccines without the need for samples.
Many private companies have also claimed to have successfully developed treatment for Covid-19, but there is no proven track record yet.
The new coronavirus, which first appeared in China in late December, has killed more than 2.5 lakh people to date and infected more than 3.6 million people worldwide.
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