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Scientists in lab
A research team at the Flanders-based VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology – headed by professor of virology Xavier Saelens – is currently making significant progress with a research on an antiviral drug to treat the coronavirus (COVID-19).  
Scientists in lab

Flanders’ academic excellence

Earlier work by the scientists identified a unique antibody capable of preventing the binding of the SARS-CoV virus – the causative agent of COVID-19 disease – to human cells. The antibody can be produced through processes that are common in the biopharmaceutical industry, enabling large-scale production. 


In collaboration with other international research centers, the team in Flanders has now made significant progress in developing a potential agent against the coronavirus based on this antibody. The next step is to work on the live variant involved in the current outbreak.  


Dr. Bert Schepens, scientist at VIB, Flanders’ strategic research center for life sciences and biotechnology: “This breakthrough was made possible thanks to good teamwork. We can rely on the innovative academic excellence and talent of the whole VIB team. In the future, we will continue to collaborate, also with academic experts outside VIB walls. It felt like a collective victory when we were able to establish the suppression of the virus in these experiments.” 

Further research on the way

Currently, the scientists are preparing the preclinical test phase for a coronavirus treatment. Although the first results are highly promising, further research is necessary to confirm the full potential of this antibody-based drug targeting COVID-19. VIB has filed a patent application and is reaching out to industrial partners for further development of the potential drug. 

Known for its life sciences breakthroughs

As a leading reference in biotechnology, VIB is known worldwide for its breakthroughs in life sciences research in numerous domains, including oncology, microbiology, medical biotech, immunology and inflammation. VIB scientists are committed to fighting not only established but also emerging epidemic threats. 


Hilde Crevits, Flanders’ Minister of Science and Innovation: “Thanks to years of biomedical research targeting the SARS virus, the scientists identified its similarities to the current coronavirus relatively quickly. This allowed them to realize this first major breakthrough.” 

Reported by
Newspaper De Tijd

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