Doctor in Netflix’s ‘Pandemic’ says he discovered potential coronavirus cure

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A San Francisco doctor featured in the Netflix documentary “Pandemic” announced that he and his team have discovered a potential coronavirus cure — which will now be tested by the US military.

Jacob Glanville, who runs the biotech company Distributed Bio, tweeted that the new antibody therapy, which works by “blocking the novel coronavirus from infecting human cells,” is a “candidate cure” for the deadly bug that has swept 180 countries and territories.

“I’m happy to report that my team has successfully taken five antibodies that back in 2002 were determined to bind and neutralize, block and stop the SARS virus,” Glanville told the Radio New Zealand program “Checkpoint.” “We’ve evolved them in our laboratory, so now they very vigorously block and stop the SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19] virus as well.”

The antibodies will be sent to the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, which will use them directly against the virus to demonstrate whether they work as intended, FOX News reported. Human trials will come later.

Researchers — aware that COVID-19 “is a cousin of the old SARS” — created “hundreds of millions of versions” of antibodies for that virus, “mutated them a bit, and in that pool of mutated versions, we found versions that cross them over,” Glanville said on the radio program.

Dr. Jacob Glanville
Dr. Jacob GlanvilleFacebook

“So now we know they bind on the same spot as the new virus, COVID-19,” he continued. “It binds the spot that the virus uses to gain entry into your cells. It blocks that.”

A scanning electron microscope image shows coronavirus
A scanning electron microscope image shows coronavirus.via REUTERS

“At this point we know it binds the same spot extremely tightly with high affinity,” the doctor added.

Glanville called the therapy “sort of like a short-term vaccine, except it works immediately.”

“You could give it to a patient who’s sick, experiencing COVID-19, then within 20 minutes of receiving the shot, their body is flooded with those antibodies,” Glanville said. “Those antibodies will surround and stick all over a virus and make it so it’s no longer infectious. You could also give it to a doctor or a nurse or an elderly person and they would then have those antibodies in them that would prevent them from getting infected in the first place.”

The disadvantage, however, is that these antibodies will only protect recipients for 8 to 10 weeks, unlike a true vaccine.

As the military is conducting tests, another laboratory will screen the medication to ensure it is safe for humans, Glanville said.

If all goes well, Glanville’s team — which has partnered with two other companies — will ramp up production of the drug, he said.

Human trials can then begin at the end of the summer.

“That’s a … trial where you give it to a series of 400 to 600 people who are in hospitals experiencing symptoms, and then you watch over the next five to 10 days to see whether it helped or not,” the doctor said.

At the earliest, the drug can be released in September for compassionate use — treating patients with the medication outside clinical trials, Glanville said. This type of use was necessary for medications during the Ebola crisis, he said.

“My feeling is that we should also, in anticipation that that study looks good … we should start scaling up a lot more doses, hundreds of thousands to millions, for the next step — and governments should pay for that,” the doctor said.

Filed under 4/1/20