Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who visited the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Nes Ziona on Thursday together with President Reuven Rivlin, announced after the visit that the laboratory has found three more antibodies that “neutralize” the coronavirus. This comes just days after the laboratory announced that it had isolated one antibody.
Bennett said that he asked the scientists to “move as quickly as possible” to develop a full treatment.
“I’ve had the unique opportunity to push this project since its inception a few months ago,” Bennett wrote. “These are incredibly smart, creative and vigorous researchers, who love their work and care deeply about Israel’s security.”
Bennett said that he requested that they move as quickly as possible to complete the work for a full treatment. Bennett ordered the Defense Ministry to spare no money or resources to make this happen.
Bennett called this Israel’s “Manhattan Project” to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a detailed explanation, Bennett wrote that this scientific breakthrough has three key parameters:
- 1. These novel antibodies are fully human monoclonal, selected from COVID-19 patients.
- 2. These antibodies specifically bind to distinct elements of the aggressive coronavirus.
- 3. The institute has demonstrated the ability of each of the antibodies to neutralize the live coronavirus (block the virus from infecting cells).
Bennett noted that based on comprehensive scientific publications from around the globe, it appears that the IIBR is the first institution to achieve a scientific breakthrough that meets all three of the aforementioned parameters simultaneously.
The IIBR is currently pursuing a patent for their development, after which it will contact international manufacturers.
It should be emphasized that this scientific achievement has the potential to progress toward a treatment for coronavirus patients and that it is not a vaccine for wide-range use. This is an important milestone, which will be followed by a series of complex tests and a process of regulatory approvals.
That said, the scientists at the institute believe that the nature of this breakthrough could lead to a shortening of the process, which could span over several months.