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Israel isolates coronavirus antibody -minister

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - 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 COVID-19 pandemic.

The monoclonal neutralizing antibody developed at the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) “can neutralize it (the disease-causing coronavirus) inside carriers’ bodies,” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

The statement added that Bennett visited the IIBR on Monday where he was briefed “on a significant breakthrough in finding an antidote for the coronavirus”.

It quoted IIBR Director Shmuel Shapira as saying that the antibody formula was being patented, after which an international manufacturer would be sought to mass-produce it.

The IIBR has been leading Israeli efforts to develop a treatment and vaccine for the coronavirus, including the testing of blood from those who recovered from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Israel was one of the first countries to close its borders and impose increasingly stringent restrictions on movement to hamper the domestic coronavirus outbreak. It has reported 16,246 cases and 235 deaths from the illness.

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