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A team of researchers said it has discovered an antibody able to identify and neutralize the new coronavirus, a potential step forward in the race for better testing and treatments of the deadly disease.

The research team, led by Kao Corp. in Tokyo and the startup Epsilon Molecular Engineering (EME), which is associated with Saitama University, succeeded in isolating it from more than 10 billion other candidates, it announced on May 7.

The antibody is expected to have applications in diagnostics and testing for the virus.

Since it can identify the new coronavirus easily, the team said it plans to share the antibody with other research organizations to study its use in testing, which could potentially lead to faster diagnosis than the currently available polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

The antibody is a protein that can bind to viruses.

The team selected and researched one known as the VHH antibody.

That antibody comes from a camelid, a group of mammals that includes camels and llamas, and has a simple structure. It is just one-10th the typical size for an antibody.

It is easy to modify the VHH antibody, so it can respond to virus mutations. It is also suitable for mass production, according to the research team's announcement.