AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Researchers from Utrecht University said on Thursday they are in talks with major pharmaceutical manufacturers on developing an antibody treatment for the new coronavirus.

“I think the most optimistic scenario is that we can reach the first patients in about six months,” said virologist Berend-Jan Bosch at a press conference. The university has formed a partnership with Erasmus Medical Centre and Harbour Biomed to develop the potential treatment.

Bosch was lead author of a study published in Nature Communications this month that identified a human antibody, or protein, that prevents the virus from infecting cells in a test tube. He cautioned that it is not certain the antibody will be effective in humans.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling, Editing by Franklin Paul)