Maine doctor part of groundbreaking study on antibody strength in the fight against COVID-19

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 7:26 AM EDT
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A doctor from Windham is leading a groundbreaking study on how antibodies could be used to help battle the coronavirus.

Dr. John Mills, a graduate of North Yarmouth Academy, contributed to the study at the world-renown Mayo Clinic earlier this month.

"Up until now, the questions being asked before selection of a plasma for donation is, 'Do you have antibodies or not.' (instead of), 'Do you have functional antibodies that block the virus?' So this is going to help identify those plasmas for therapeutic use," Mills said.

The test they developed can be used to target the best of the antibodies produced in the body to battle coronavirus. It will also be critical in judging the viability of future vaccines.

"It's common that during a vaccine development, after a person is vaccinated, they'll do serial monitoring to look at that individual and, say, after vaccination, did they develop high titers of neutralizing antibodies? If a patient does, then that's a very good indication that the vaccine is likely to be successful," Mills said.

Mills commends his team for working urgently to find this result.

'We've had some individuals in our lab that have worked 22 days straight, 60 plus hours, every single day to get this done. This hasn't been required of them, it's been their passion to help out, help the country to get a test out that's going to support some of these ongoing trials with the hope that we are going to be able to contribute to the nation as a whole.''

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