Two months after the outbreak of the coronavirus in South Korea, researchers are presenting first results of an effective treatment for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The Swiss biotech Humabs BioMed has been able to isolate an effective antibody from a cured patient that should now be further developed under a non-profit base.
In 2012, a new coronavirus with the origin in the Arabian Peninsula was identified: MERS-CoV. To infect humans, the virus is believed to take a long way, making stopovers in bats and Arabian camels. However, when the virus is transferred from the camels to humans, it can cause a severe illness called Middel East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The disease affects the lungs and the kidneys and is potentially lethal. Current treatments ease the symptoms, but there is no cure for the disease.
The situation could soon be changed thanks to Humabs. The Swiss company focuses on the development of human monoclonal antibodies from recovered patients. These “winner antibodies”, as Humabs calls them, are then licensed to experienced partner-companies.