The finding may help develop vaccines and treatments against different coronaviruses
A team of researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Center in the United States has identified an antibody that can fight not only the SARS-CoV-2 virus (including its variants), but also other coronaviruses Similar.
The finding, published in the magazine Nature, can contribute to development of new vaccines and also on another front where up to now the success of science has been less, that of generation of therapies in order to who have already been infected.
One of the main limitations of current antibody therapies for COVID patients is that several of the new SARS-CoV-2 variants have acquired mutations that reduce the action of drugs.
The virus somehow it has become more elusive against certain defenses. As for vaccines, the current ones are obtaining unthinkable results just a few months ago, but there are several teams in the world already trying to find a vaccine against all coronaviruses that may be useful in the event of a possible pandemic in the future.
A ‘superantibody’ between 12
For this reason, this study has experimented with 12 different antibodies from people who had the disease. The function of all these defenses analyzed is to adhere to the S protein that the coronavirus uses to infect human cells. Let’s say that this structure of the virus works like a key and human defenses stick to it, rendering it useless, so that it can no longer open the cells of its host. The problem is that mutations are emerging, right in that part of SARS-CoV-2, that allow it to bypass this blockage.
Researchers have compared the function of these dozen antibodies in different variants and also in other viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2. And between the 12, have featured one, called S2H97, which always managed to adhere to that key part of viruses. No mutation could get away from it.
An Achilles heel ‘hidden’ in SARS-CoV-2
For this reason, the possibility is now being pointed out that it is a kind of ‘super-antibody’, capable of preventing infections or contribute to healing from a wide range of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 with its variants. The study was carried out in vitro in laboratory and also with hamsters. In both cases, the results were positive.
The clue may be that the S2H97 antibody it attacks a until recently unknown and very little visible part of the virus. In fact, it only appears when SARS-CoV-2 unfolds its S proteins (those that form its characteristic crown) to infect the cell. It is then when it reveals that essential part that remains hidden the rest of the time. A kind of Achilles heel to which the S2H97 antibody attaches to block infection.
The authors also highlight the usefulness of the other 11 antibodies studied; but they emphasize that the most versatile are those that target parts of the virus that show less ability to mutate. This is a possible explanation: that the clue is not in the antibody itself, but in the area of the virus that it is targeting.