Antibodies that can lead to vaccination for all Covid strains found

NEW DELHI: In a significant development, scientists at US-based Scripps Research Institute have discovered antibodies that induce immunity against different variants of SARS-CoV2, including the highly infectious Omicron variant.
It is also effective against SARS viruses like SARS-CoV-1, which caused an outbreak in 2003. Scientists say the discovery could pave the way for the development of a pan-coronavirus vaccine. According to a study published in Science Translational Medicine, the scientists from Scripps Research Institute immunised rhesus macaques, a species of old world monkey, with two shots of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein — the outside portion on the virus that allows it to penetrate and infect host cells — to generate antibodies.
The mRNA vaccines that are being administered currently in many countries to immunise people against Covid-19 work on the same principle.
Unlike these vaccines, however, the macaques were shown to have a broad neutralising antibody response against the virus– including variants such as Omicron — in the study.
Intrigued by this stark difference, the institute said in a press statement, their scientists collaborated with Ian Wilson’s lab at Scripps Research to investigate the antibody structures and found these antibodies recognise a conserved region on the edge of the site where the spike protein binds to host cells, called the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor binding site.
“If we can design vaccines that elicit similar broad responses that we’ve seen in this study, these treatments could enable broader protection against the virus and variants of concern,” said senior author Raiees Andrabi.
“This region to date has rarely been seen to be targeted by human antibodies and suggests additional strategies that can be used to coax our immune system into recognising this particular region of the virus,” Wilson explained.

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