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‘There Are Advantages’: Israel Touts its Own Antibody Cocktail as Better Than Trump’s

During President Donald Trump’s treatment at Walter Reed military hospital, he received an experimental polyclonal antibody cocktail created by the US biotechnology company Regeneron.

Israeli researchers have rolled out an antibody cocktail touted as potentially superior to that of Regeneron’s, the antibody therapy Trump received, The Times of Israel reported.

The reported antibody cocktail was developed by a scientific team at Tel Aviv University, and is entirely based on artificial human antibodies, while Regeneron was reportedly made with antibodies produced by mice.

“Our antibodies are something very similar to what President Trump received,” immunologist Natalia Freund told The Times of Israel. “The difference is that the cocktail he received was reportedly based in part on antibodies produced by genetically modified mice, while these are based on human antibodies, which means that, in terms of safety, stability and lower likelihood of adverse effects, there are advantages.”

The Israeli cocktail, however, has not yet been tested on humans, with Freund saying that the team is negotiating with pharma companies to start trials. According to the scientists, the cocktail could be useful for both treatment and prevention of coronavirus.

“Our vision is to use it both as a treatment for critical patients and for protection of populations at risk and people who are exposed to coronavirus,” Freund said. “The hope is that this could be injected and could give protection for some weeks, and be re-administered until the much-awaited vaccine finally arrives.”

While no human trials have started, researchers tried the cocktail on cells, and the virus could not infect them. Moreover, according to Freund, since the scientists have now obtained the sequence, production of antibodies is no longer limited.

REUTERS / Brendan McDermid

Medical technicians work at a drive-through coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

The antibody cocktail developed at the Tel Aviv University was made out of thousands of antibodies from a reported 18 recovered patients, out of which the most promising patterns were chosen.

“Our six most promising antibodies bind different target areas on the virus,” said Freund. “It’s not a single mechanism, but rather several complementary mechanisms of action. The antibodies identify various weak spots on the virus, bind these spots and neutralize it.”

The Regeneron cocktail was given to Trump when he was admitted to Walter Reed hospital to receive treatment for the coronavirus after he and his wife tested positive on 2 October. Trump praised the cocktail, among other treatments, for what appeared to be a speedy recovery, as he returned to the White House four days after being hospitalized and was declared to be non-contagious by his personal physician on Saturday.

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