Researchers in Costa Rica are set to begin trials of an inexpensive treatment for the coronavirus based on antibodies taken from horses injected with SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, scientists say.Developed by the Clodomiro Picado Institute (ICP) at the University of Costa Rica, the anti-equine drug is due to be tested on 26 patients from mid-September, Roman Macaya, president of the Security Fund, told Reuters social service that manages public health centers.
Costa Rican authorities hope they can begin to apply the treatment more widely in hospitals if the results of the phase 2 study are encouraging. There are 471 hospitalized coronavirus patients in Costa Rica.
“We are proud to know that this product will save lives until the vaccine reaches the population,” said Alberto Alape, project coordinator at ICP.
“We do this with our resources, without having to queue or compete with other countries, as we can see with possible vaccines. ”
Similar efforts are also underway in Argentina and Brazil, while Belgian scientists are using llamas.
Costa Rican researchers say their method of treating SARS-Cov-2 is based on experience of using horse antibodies to develop anti-snake venoms.
They imported the viral protein from China and the UK and injected it into six of the 110 horses that the IPC uses for testing.
Weeks later, when the animals developed enough antibodies, they extracted the blood and used the antibodies from the plasma as the raw material for the injectable serum.
If it works, the researchers say they want to share the inexpensive treatment with other Central American countries, which are mostly poorer than Costa Rica.
“In addition to the principle of solidarity and the fact that it was done with an anti-venom for snakebites, we know that in a pandemic, his own well-being is linked to the well-being of the neighbors,” said Alape.