Source: Brighterside News
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital have made a significant breakthrough with the development of a new antibody. This antibody, during laboratory examinations, effectively neutralized all presently recognized variants of SARS-CoV-2, which includes all known variants of Omicron.
Frederick Alt, the Charles A. Janeway Professor of Pediatrics at Boston Children’s, Professor of Genetics at HMS, and a senior investigator of the study, expressed optimism, stating, “We hope this antibody will prove to be as effective in patients as it has been in preclinical evaluations thus far.”
As the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been developing methods to circumvent the antibodies produced by our immune systems in reaction to vaccination or previous infections. This has led to cases of breakthrough infections, and the diminishing efficacy of antibody treatments over time.
Three out of the nine identified antibody families exhibited significant effectiveness in neutralizing the original Wuhan-Hu-1 virus. However, one particular antibody family, most notably the antibody designated as SP1-77, demonstrated a more extensive range of activity, neutralizing alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and all previously and currently known omicron strains.
Through the combined efforts of structural biology studies conducted by teams led by Bing Chen, the Rosalind Franklin, PhD Professor of Pediatrics at Boston Children’s; Jun Zhang, HMS instructor in pediatrics at Boston Children’s; and Barton Haynes at Duke, it was discovered that this antibody functions in a distinct manner.
For SARS-CoV-2 to infect human beings, it must first bind to ACE2 receptors on our cells. Many of the antibodies produced in response to vaccines, as well as those used in the treatment of COVID-19, inhibit this binding process. They achieve this by attaching to the spike’s receptor-binding domain at specific sites.
The SP1-77 antibody, however, interacts with the receptor-binding domain in a unique way that does not stop the virus from binding to ACE2 receptors.
“SP1-77 binds the spike protein at a site that so far has not been mutated in any variant, and it neutralizes these variants by a novel mechanism,” noted Kirchhausen. “These properties may contribute to its broad and potent activity.”
The scientists have submitted patent applications for both the antibodies and the mouse model employed in their generation. Their aspiration is to see their research evolve into commercial applications.
Should these discoveries be successfully duplicated in humans, these antibodies might pave the way for improved COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.