Scientists at Scripps Research have found a common molecular feature present in many human antibodies that helps in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2, the major cause of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
A recently reviewed data of around 300 anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies has shown that COVID-19 patients have recovered over the past few months. The researchers also stated that a subset of these antibodies is individually powerful at neutralizing the coronavirus. These potent antibodies are all concealed in part by IGHV3-53, the same antibody gene.
To take the image of 2 of these antibodies connected to SARS-CoV-2’s target site, the researchers used X-ray crystallography, a powerful tool for imaging. The details of the resulting atomic-structure of this interaction could help the vaccine designers and scientists, who are hoping to produce antiviral drugs targeting the same site on SARS-CoV-2.
The earlier findings have suggested that the antibodies encoded by IGHV3-53 usually are present, at least in small amounts, in a healthy person’s blood. Thus this finding also offers hope that using a vaccine of antibodies to boost levels of these ever-present antibodies will shield adequately against the virus.
At Scripps Research Integrative Structural and Computational Biology department chairperson and senior author of study Ian Wilson, DPhil stated that this antibody type has always been separated frequently while conducting COVID-19 patient’s research. Now they have understood the structural basis for the antibodies interaction with SARS-CoV-2.
Scripps Research Immunology and Microbiology department professor, Dennis Burton, said that the research has pinout important inspiration for designing effective COVID-19 vaccine.
The research was conducted at the Scripps Research-based, a prominent non-profit vaccine research organization named Neutralizing Antibody Center of IAVI. In collaboration with chiefly involving the Wilson and Burton labs.
So far, SARS-CoV-2 has infected 12+ million people worldwide and killed more than 500,000. Alongside this, it has caused widespread socio-economic damage and disruption. Currently, the top public health priority globally is to develop an effective vaccine to curb the pandemic.
Even though many potential vaccines are already in clinical trials, whereas scientists yet not have a clearer understanding of the molecular features that would define a protective antibody response. In the recent finding, the researchers took a big step toward this goal.
Over the past few months, the research team has analyzed 294 different SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies separated from COVID-19 patients’ blood. Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins created in immune cells called B-cells. Every B-cell creates a specific antibody clone or type, which is later encoded by a unique combination of antibody genes in the cell.
The researchers discovered that an antibody gene called IGHV3-53 was the most usual of the genes for the 294 antibodies, encoding nearly 10% of them. The researchers also noted that IGHV3-53-encoded antibodies have an unusually short variant of the CDR H3 loop, basically, a critical target-binding element, which is very potent against SARS-CoV-2 than other antibodies not encoded by IGHV3-53.
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