What are Monoclonal antibodies?
Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies that are made by identical immune cells that are all clones of a unique parent cell. Monoclonal antibodies can have monovalent affinity, in that they bind to the same epitope (the part of an antigen that is recognized by the antibody). In contrast, polyclonal antibodies bind to multiple epitopes and are usually made by several different plasma cells (antibody secreting immune cell) lineages. Bispecific monoclonal antibodies can also be engineered, by increasing the therapeutic targets of one single monoclonal antibody to two epitopes.
Israel has isolated a key coronavirus antibody at its main biological research laboratory, the Israeli defense minister said on Monday, calling the step a “significant breakthrough” toward a possible treatment for the coronavirus pandemic. The “monoclonal neutralizing antibody” developed at the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) “can neutralize it (the disease-causing coronavirus) inside carriers’ bodies,” Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.
But its latest mission is lifesaving. Since March, it has been spearheading a sprawling, high-speed effort to unleash some of the country’s most advanced technologies against an enemy of another kind: Covid-19.
The national undertaking is for the first time linking up major hospitals and research institutes with Israel’s vaunted high-tech sector and its military-industrial behemoths: Elbit Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the companies behind Israel’s arsenals of unmanned vehicles, missiles and souped-up fighter jets.
Red tape, institutional rivalries, and cronyism can stand in the way of a unified, rapid response to a crisis. But Israel quickly set up a national task force and dozens of teams with hundreds of scientists, engineers, doctors, executives, government officials, and military officers all working toward the same goals.
“In Israel, if there is a mission that has to be done, it’s like a war,” said Brig. Gen. Dani Gold, who is leading the charge. “Everybody drops what they’re doing, tunes into the mission and works on the mission with a lot of energy and creativity.”
Several Israeli start-ups are vying to develop fast diagnostic tests to smell, hear or see the telltale characteristics of coronavirus infections.