The Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) presented the country’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennet with a “significant breakthrough” in the search for an antidote to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on Monday night.1

In a statement, Bennet stated that IIBR briefed him on the breakthrough, explaining that they had effectively isolated the antibody that attacks the virus monocularly and neutralizes COVID-19 in carriers' bodies.1

According to researchers at IIBR, the development phase has been completed. IIBR Director Shmuel Shapira, PhD, explained that they will first register the antibody for a patent, before proceeding to connect with international companies that have the capacity to mass-produce the antibody in commercial quantities.1

According to Reuters, a monoclonal antibody, like the one developed in Israel, is obtained from a single recovered cell. Currently, there are other facilities researching antibodies, but they have developed treatments from polyclonal antibodies, which consist of multiple cells.2 The benefit of a monoclonal antibody is that it potentially has more potent value in yielding a treatment.3

At the end of March, Bennet informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the progress in the isolation of the COVID-19 monoclonal antibody at IIBR. Bennet explained that the institute was developing a model for the next phase of animal testing.3

In Netenyahu’s press conference in April, he explained further that the institute had made progress not only toward developing an antibody, but also a vaccine for COVID-19. This separate antibody-based vaccine is currently being tested in trials on rodents.2

Further antibody testing is currently underway elsewhere in the world as well, but questions remain regarding whether antibodies allow for immunity from getting infected or re-infected, as no study has proven either definitively. Furthermore, no study has proven whether the efficacy of antibody protection endures over time.2

Currently, according to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that no more than 2% to 3% of the world population have antibodies that demonstrate whether they were previously infected.2

However, further research into antibodies may help to amass knowledge and information on the appropriate treatment methods available for COVID-19, while companies around the world work as quickly as possible on the development of a vaccine. Some researchers have noted that a vaccine may be the only way to effectively stop the spread of COVID-19.2

REFERENCES
  1. Zeitun Y, Janco A. Minister Bennett: "A significant breakthrough in finding an antibody to Corona." Ynet; May 5, 2020. ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5725199,00.html. Accessed May 5, 2020.
  2. Perper R. Israel’s government research agency says it successfully isolated a key coronavirus antibody, paving the way for a possible breakthrough treatment. Business Insider; May 5, 2020. businessinsider.com/israel-coronavirus-monoclonal-antibody-potential-treatment-2020-5. Accessed May 5, 2020.
  3. Israel Isolates Coronavirus Antibody in 'Significant Breakthrough': Minister. The New York Times; May 4, 2020. nytimes.com/reuters/2020/05/04/world/middleeast/04reuters-health-coronavirus-israel-treatment.html. Accessed May 5, 2020.