UK SCIENTISTS WORKING IN OXFORDSHIRE DISCOVER A SECRET WEAPON IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
In what is being described as a “games changer” a group of Oxfordshire Academics have discovered an antibody in the blood of a patient with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The scientists hope they could neutralise the deadly coronavirus that is sweeping across the globe at an alarming rate. Scientists from non-profit organisation Diamond, in Harwell, Oxfordshire, used an X-ray machine, which works like a giant microscope, to analyse the blood of a patient who previously had SARS.
They found the antibody in the patient that was diagnosed with SARS in 2004 using the Diamond Light Source, a powerful machine which uses electrons to produce light beams to enable scientists to investigate viruses. They found that the person had an antibody, which could cling onto a virus and fight it using the body’s natural immune defences.
Diamond’s deputy life sciences director, Professor Gwyndaf Evans revealed that the antibody latched on to the coronavirus even better than it had done with SARS. He said: ”Coronavirus has a spherical body with spikes coming out of the surface and it gets the name because of the shape of the spike, because it looks like a crown. “The team has isolated the spike protein and looked at the surviving SARS patient to see if they can identify an antibody binding in the right place that has the potential to be useful. “We found one that looks even better for binding to coronavirus, so we’re hoping it could become a therapy.”
SARS originated in China and outbreak, between November 2002 and July 2003, sparked 8,098 cases and 774 deaths reported in 17 countries. Meanwhile, scientists at Oxford University have developed a new coronavirus test which can give results in just half an hour – dramatically speeding up the rate at which possible sufferers of COVID-19 are diagnosed.
Their new test is much faster and does not require complicated instrumentation. Whereas previous viral RNA tests took between one-and-a-half and two hours to provide a result, the research team has developed a new test, based on a technique capable of giving results in just half an hour – more than three times faster than the current method.
A team led by Professors Zhanfeng Cui and Wei Huang have also been working to improve test capabilities as the virus spreads across the world.
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