Jacob Glanville, Ph.D., a self-described “entrepreneur, inventor and computational immuno-engineer”1 featured in the Netflix docuseries “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak,”2 claims to have developed a viable cure for COVID-19 that will soon undergo testing by the U.S. military.
Glanville, founding partner and CEO of a biotech company called Distributed Bio, and a group of employees began working on a treatment January 25, 2020. According to the company’s website:3
“Our strategy was to engineer a panel of anti-SARS antibodies to make them recognize and block the novel coronavirus. The result of that work is a panel of ultra-high affinity therapeutic antibodies to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 (the virus behind COVID-19).
The work leveraged both the Distributed Bio SuperHuman 2.0 human antibody discovery technology and the Tumbler computational antibody optimization technology to discover thousands of antibodies against a novel virus in 9 weeks.”
How the Antibody Treatment Works
In a March 31, 2020, interview, Glanville explained how his company came up with the treatment:4
” … My team has successfully taken five antibodies that back in 2002 were determined to bind and neutralize, block and stop the SARS virus … The new virus is a cousin of the old SARS.
So, what we've done is we've created hundreds of millions of versions of those antibodies, we've mutated them a bit, and in that pool of mutated versions, we found versions that cross them over … They bind on the same spot as the new virus, Covid-19.
It binds [to] the spot that the virus uses to gain entry into your cells. It blocks that. At this point we know it binds the same spot extremely tightly with high affinity. The next step is we send the antibodies to the military, and they will directly put those on the virus and show that it blocks its ability to infect cells.”
As reported by Fox News,5 the antibody therapy essentially circumvents the need for a vaccine. “Instead of giving you a vaccine and waiting for it to produce an immune response, we just give you those antibodies right away … so within about 20 minutes, that patient has the ability to neutralize the virus,” Glanville said.
According to Glanville, the completed drug will be tested for efficacy by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), while the Charles River Laboratories will conduct safety testing.6
According to the New York Post,7 human trials may begin at the end of the summer. At best, the drug might be released in September for compassionate use, Glanville says, which means patients can get the drug outside a clinical trial. When asked about Glanville’s claims, Dr. Anthony Fauci replied that the use of monoclonal antibodies is “an old concept” and that pursuing it was “the right thing to do.”8
Malaria Drugs Show Promise Against COVID-19
In an interview with KRON ON’s Ella Sogomonian, Glanville also discusses some of the other drugs that look promising against COVID-19. One of them is the malaria medication chloroquine, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is allowing to be used off-label against COVID-19.9 Laboratory testing on cell cultures have shown it to be effective against SARS-CoV-2.10
The other drug now being used is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil). While it uses the same pathway as chloroquine, it has a safer side effect profile.11 One recently released study12 had encouraging results using this drug. Infection control specialist Dr. Didier Raoult from France enrolled 24 patients with confirmed COVID-19.
Patients received 600 mg of hydroxychloroquine each day and their viral load was monitored. Depending on the clinical presentation, they added azithromycin to the treatment protocol. Patients from another hospital who refused the treatment were used as controls.
While the study was small, the findings suggest “hydroxychloroquine treatment is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients and its effect is reinforced by azithromycin.”
Another physician shared his positive results using a similar protocol.13 Dr. Vladimir Zelenko treats a close-knit population of 35,000 in Kiryas Joel, New York. After testing showed there may be 20,000 infected in the community, he developed a treatment protocol before patients were admitted.
Over a five-day period, he treated any patient with shortness of breath or who was in a high-risk category with mild symptoms. The team used hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc sulfate for five days. In the five-day period there were no deaths, hospitalization or incubations. He reported “approximately 10% of patients” had “temporary nausea and diarrhea.”
Malaria Drugs Are Not Without Risk
Please understand that I am merely reporting that this approach is being used and am in no way endorsing this approach as, like any drug, it can have unintended consequences called side effects, and many of them can be very serious.
While chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine show promise against COVID-19, they are not without risks. Both drugs have the side effect of elongating your electrocardiogram QT wave. This means the electrical activity in the heart is altered, which can lead to seizure, fainting and sudden death.14
Two days after China issued a treatment guideline to use chloroquine, it sent a warning to closely monitor adverse side effects and limit use to those without heart, liver or kidney disease, and those who are not taking antibiotics such as azithromycin or prescribed steroids.15
I believe there are more effective, less expensive and simple strategies available that I have previously discussed that should be considered before this radical approach.
Zinc May Play an Important Role
Interestingly, chloroquine appears to improve zinc absorption, and this might be part of what makes it so useful against COVID-19. Evidence shows zinc gluconate and zinc acetate effectively reduce the severity and duration of viral infections. Zinc is crucial to the effectiveness of your immune system, enzyme function, protein synthesis and cell division.
Studies demonstrate using zinc lozenges reduces the duration of a cold by 33% and lessens the severity of your symptoms.16 Zinc has also been shown to inhibit coronavirus in vitro and block coronavirus replication in cell culture.17 As explained by Seheult in the MedCram video above:18
“When the coronavirus infects your cell, it's going to dump into your cell a messenger RNA that's going to be translated using ribosomes. Those ribosomes, the first thing they are going to do is translate that RNA molecule into a protein called RNA dependent RNA polymerase, or replicase.
And, it is this enzyme that is … inhibited by high intracellular concentrations of zinc. Well, as it turns out, chloroquine is a zinc ionophore, as is hydroxychloroquine. Zinc ionophore is just basically a protein or a gate that allows zinc to come into the cells.
We don't know if that is the actual way it is working in this case, but it does seem to lend credence to the mechanism of action that zinc does inhibit replicase and that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine increase the intracellular concentration of zinc.”
Your Immune System Is Your No. 1 Defense
As this story unfolds, I am committed to bringing you viable prevention and treatment options you can use at home. A recently published article19 by Mark McCarty and James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, highlight several nutraceuticals that may help reduce symptoms and severity of influenza and coronaviruses.20 According to the authors, these viruses:
“… cause an inflammatory storm in the lungs and it is this inflammatory storm that leads to acute respiratory distress, organ failure, and death. Certain nutraceuticals may help to reduce the inflammation in the lungs from RNA viruses and others may also help boost type 1 interferon response to these viruses, which is the body's primary way to help create antiviral antibodies to fight off viral infections.”
From the conclusions of several randomized clinical studies, DiNicolantonio and McCarty believe the antiviral effects of some nutraceuticals are quite clear, and hope these benefits will encourage further research to test this strategy. I’ve summarized these nutraceuticals in “Essential Nutrition to Protect Yourself From Coronavirus.” Additional suggestions can be found in “Quercetin and Vitamin D — Allies Against Coronavirus?”
Stay away from others when you are sick to avoid spreading any virus you may be carrying, and to seek medical attention as you would if you were sick with a bad flu. Difficulty breathing is a clear indicator that medical attention may be required. This is particularly true if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system or a chronic medical condition that may place you in a higher risk category for severe COVID-19 infection.21