By Dr. Tom Borelli originally posted at Newsmax.com.
As the world hunkers down to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the biotechnology industry is coming to the rescue.
In the end, it will be the drug development entrepreneurs who are leveraging years of education, countless hours in laboratory research and capitalism to save the day and lives.
Biotechnology companies have a range of potential products to address the coronavirus pandemic.
The products address the full range of treatments from development of a vaccine to prevent infection, products designed to attack the coronavirus in infected people and drugs to mitigate the complications of the viral infection.
The coronavirus is causing havoc because it is new and our immune system doesn’t have an antibody defense mechanism against a new foreign invader.
Vaccines are the best way to prevent infections and the biotechnology industry is in a mad rush to develop this option.
The first clinical trial of a vaccine recently kicked off in Seattle, Washington.
Biotech company Moderna developed the vaccine by using messenger RNA technology a new approach for medicine.
Previously, vaccines were made by using inactivated viruses or proteins from the infectious agent to generate an antibody response.
The presence of a foreign protein called an antigen mobilizes our immune system to generate antibodies to neutralize the unknown agent.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are different.
The technique uses an indirect method by tricking human cells to make the protein antigen by using the virus’ genetic material as a template.
In this case, a segment of the viral genetic code from the coronavirus — RNA in this case — is put into a person where cells then make the foreign protein.
The appearance of the antigen will illicit production of antibodies against the virus.
There are other biotech companies using mRNA technology to produce vaccines and other vaccine approaches are also being employed.
Unfortunately, vaccine development takes time with the most optimistic estimate being at least a year.
Another complication in dealing with the coronavirus is antibiotics don’t work with viruses — they only work against bacteria.
However, there are other ways to help fight the virus of an infected person.
One way to fight the virus is to use anti-viral agents that interfere with the way a virus multiplies itself.
Gilead Sciences developed an anti-viral agent called remdesivir.
The drug worked against the Ebola virus in laboratory testing but failed when tried with patients.
Remdesivir is used in multiple new clinical trials with coronavirus patients in China and the U.S.
Some initial tests with remdesivir generated some positive results including a man treated in Washington and another man in France but it will take more data from the ongoing clinical trials to determine if the drug is effective in fighting the coronavirus.
In addition, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is showing encouraging results using two different strategies to fight the coronavirus.
One effort is taking advantage of genetically engineered mice to make human antibodies against the coronavirus.
After using mice to create the novel human antibodies, antibody producing cells are grown in bioreactors to produce the antibodies in great quantities for commercial use.
In the past, Regeneron used this technology to attack the Ebola virus in patients.
Using this technology, Regeneron recently announced success in developing a mixture of antibodies that have the potential to neutralize the coronavirus.
In this instance, the antibodies target the spike protein on the surface of the virus which prevents it from binding and invading human cells.
The company is planning on starting the clinical studies with its antibodies in April.
Regeneron and drug company Sanofi are also testing Kevzara, an FDA approved drug for rheumatoid arthritis, in clinical trials in patients with a serious coronavirus infection.
In contrast to the human anti-coronavirus antibodies mentioned above, Kevzara doesn’t attack the virus.
Instead it mitigates the devastating consequences of lung cell damage when inflammation goes into overdrive following the viral invasion.
Kevzara is a mouse derived human antibody that targets Interleukin 6 – a protein that plays a role in the body’s inflammation response following tissue damage.
Biotechnology companies are leading the way to prevent and treat people infected with the coronavirus.
The coronavirus started the fight but biotechnology companies using the latest technology funded by investors with government research support will end it.
Dr. Tom Borelli Ph.D. is a Newsmax Insider contributor, contributor to America’s Voice News and a TV and radio political commentator.