Horses joined the fight against COVID-19 in Costa Rica and will even put up their blood to defeat the virus that has the world on its knees. The horses will not suffer in the process.
Scientists at the Clodomiro Picado Institute, of the University of Costa Rica (ICP-UCR), who are working on creating the treatment against the new coronavirus, have two battlefronts, one is with the blood of patients who had COVID-19 and recovered and the other is the contribution of rucos (horses).
In order not to be completely dependent on human donors, various viral proteins will be used to immunize six horses donated to the UCR and thus obtain antibodies from horses.
The method consists of the following: some of the proteins of the new coronavirus are repeatedly injected into the horse and, in three months, the animal will have produced a good amount of antibodies with the capacity to neutralize the virus.
Scientists then draw the blood and separate the blood cells from the blood plasma, which contains the antibodies.
The Clodomiro Picado Institute of the UCR and INCIENSA are working on the development of three strategies with human and horse plasma to achieve powerful antibodies against the coronavirus.
Antibodies generated by the horse against the coronavirus are then purified and finally used to prepare the medication, which is an injectable liquid kept in a vial.
Human contribution. If a person recovers fully from the COVID-19 disease, their body achieves an immunity (resistance) to that coronavirus that can be extracted from the plasma of their blood and used to save the lives of other people with acute symptoms caused by this pandemic.
That immunity, created by the human being himself, is thanks to the antibodies that cling to the virus and win the fight. This plasma has already managed to beat the virus (it is called immunoglobulin-antibody therapy).
Understanding that, as confirmed by the ICP-UCR, Costa Rica has the potential to generate a treatment based on human plasma and make it available to the country.
“Sera from convalescent patients or from hyperimmunized volunteers (a person who has a higher amount of antibodies than normal) have been used successfully in diseases such as rabies or Ebola. Reports of the efficacy of these preparations for treating COVID-19 are scarce, but some developed countries are already opting for this alternative,” explained Dr. Guillermo León Montero, coordinator of the Industrial Division of ICP-UCR.
If all goes well, the proposed project needed several institutions in the country to agree, as they are already doing. The CCSS will collect the plasma from donors who have recovered from the covid-19.
The Inciensa and the LCBS-UCR will carry out the necessary analyzes to demonstrate that this plasma (from the blood of voluntary donors) is free from SARS-CoV-2 and other important diseases that prevent this blood from being used in transfusions.
“The results obtained were very satisfactory and as expected. The characteristics are as required and therefore it is an injectable product in terms of chemical and microbiological quality,” said León.
With the foregoing achieved, the Clodomiro Picado Institute will use its experience in the production of snake antivenoms, in order to produce a preparation of purified antibodies from plasma.
The final medication will be in an antibody solution to be injected into patients intravenously and the dose will vary according to the patient’s need.
It is estimated that, per 25 liters of plasma recovered from donors, 50 vials (doses) of 50 ml can be produced. Depending on the condition of the sick person, one dose may be enough to save their life.