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A group of Harvard researchers believe that have found exactly a single antibody that neutralizes all known variants of SARS-CoV-2 in your lab tests.
All this, amid warnings of the “serious mistake” that is being made by ignoring COVID-19 and the 15,000 daily deaths it is causing.
The antibody could be used within existing vaccination strategies to finally end the constant cycle, should the results transfer well to human trials. The findings were published in Science Immunology.
“We hope that this antibody will prove to be as effective in patients as it has been in preclinical evaluations thus far,” said Frederick Alt, HMS Charles A. Janeway Professor of Pediatrics at Boston Children’s and the study’s principal investigator, in a statement. .
“If it does, it could provide a new therapy and also contribute to new vaccine strategies.”
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To create a broad-spectrum antibody in multiple variants, the researchers turned to mouse models that were previously created for HIV research.
These mice have become models of our own immune system, identifying foreign pathogens and going through the same trial and error moves to create antibodies that neutralize them. In this way, mice are essentially mini-machines that can efficiently provide new antibodies for therapeutic use.
When exposed to the original SARS-CoV-2 strain first identified in Wuhan, the mouse models created nine different types of antibodies that could bind to the virus, although not all neutralized it.
Further tests identified that three of these were able to strongly neutralize the original strain, but one, called SP1-77, was even more impressive: it could also neutralize alpha, beta, delta, gamma and omicron variants.
But how can you stop the virus when its spike proteins look different due to their various mutations? SP1-77 does not target the same regions as many other antibodies, instead targeting a region that has not yet mutated in any SARS-CoV-2.
“SP1-77 binds to the spike protein at a site that has so far not been mutated in any variant and neutralizes these variants by a novel mechanism,” said Tomas Kirchhausen, professor of cell biology at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS.
“These properties may contribute to its broad and potent activity.”
The researchers have now applied for patents and hope the work can be produced commercially, once the results are verified in human trials.
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