A group of researchers in southeastern Turkey’s Adıyaman discovered that horses converted the coronavirus into antibodies. Scientists injected the inactive virus into horses in a study dubbed as the first of its kind in the world and now plans to test the antibodies received from horses on other animals.
The study is part of a project to develop a COVID-19 serum sponsored by a serum exporter. The project is led by Adıyaman University President professor Mehmet Turgut and is endorsed by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK).
The project was launched on April 1 with scientists rendering the virus received from positive patients inactive and then injecting it into healthy horses. In 45 days, horses started producing antibodies. Turgut said they were inspired by previous studies where the plasma was taken from horses supplied toxins, in order to develop snake and scorpion serums. “They have proven their ability to generate antibodies,” Turgut said, adding that serums developed in similar studies are already used in the treatment of other diseases in the world. “We have another one or two months for tests. Vaccines help protection of healthy people from the disease, but serum helps patients to recover,” he told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Friday.
Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs. They attach to a virus and help it to be eliminated. Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking there’s an infection so it makes antibodies and remembers how to do that if the real virus turns up.
Turkey races against time to find a vaccine against the coronavirus and hopes to develop its own vaccine by early 2021. Authorities have recently announced that studies were closer to the human trial phase. TÜBITAK, through its COVID-19 Turkey Platform, coordinates work for drugs and vaccines against the virus. Currently, 18 studies are underway in the country, eight for vaccine development and 10 for drugs.
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