Universal antibody against all corona variants discovered – study with new findings

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Created: 08/13/2022 09:52 am


A cell infected with the corona under the microscope. A mutation cannot be ruled out. (Iconic photo) © Niaid/Europa Press/dpa/picture alliance

Researchers have identified a universal antibody against the mutations of the coronavirus. A virologist is critical of the discovery.

San Diego – The corona virus continues to mutate. The currently predominant omicron variant is to be combated in autumn with the adapted fourth vaccination. The next corona mutation may be waiting shortly afterwards, which will cause decisive incidence values. This would also require the next vaccine.

The research results of the Scripps Research Institute at the University of San Diego are now promising. A universal corona antibody was identified there. The so-called “Pan-Sars virus” antibody is intended to change the spike protein of the coronavirus, similar to previous vaccines or drugs. However, its functionality is said to be able to protect against multiple mutations.

Universal vaccine against Corona? New antibody should help in the long term.

The spike protein allows the coronavirus to gain access to human cells. A common starting point is therefore to block this interface with an adapted antibody. Antibody drugs and vaccines have so far focused on the tip of the spike protein. The problem here is that this part of the protein changes from mutation to mutation. Biontech, Moderna and Co. are constantly encouraged to develop adapted corona vaccines and medicines.

The “Pan-Sars virus” antibody acts more skillfully than its predecessors. It binds to the style of spike protein that is “less likely to mutate over time.” “This discovery may shed light on how next-generation vaccines can be developed that can provide additional protection against emerging Sars-CoV-2 variants and other Sars-related viruses,” says the team in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Universal antibody discovered: Research results agree

The researchers came across the new antibody while studying the effectiveness of vaccines. The preparations were tested on rhesus monkeys because they have a human-like immune system. The immune system of the primates reacted differently to the administration of spike proteins than expected and a range of antibodies developed – including the “Pan-Sars virus” antibody.

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The research team from San Francisco is not alone with their results. At the end of July, researchers at the University of Alabama in Brimingham discovered 17 different antibodies, four of which were apparently able to neutralize all mutations, including the beta and omicron variants. The “1249A8” antibody in particular caught the researchers’ attention.

“No solution”: Virologist dampens euphoria about universal antibodies

While the American research team is celebrating the results of their investigation, virologist Klaus Stöhr is skeptical about the new discovery: “Unfortunately, the ‘universal antibodies’ will not be a solution for vaccines in the near future,” writes Stöhr Twitter. The reason: lack of space. “There is simply not enough space to dock.” In addition, the “selective pressure” would lead to the development of new variants that would make it necessary to adapt the vaccine.

He predicts: “These ‘universal’ antibodies will not be ready for practical use in the next few years.” Nevertheless, the discovery of new antibodies is not a sham success. They may not be vaccine candidates, but the way they work offers new research avenues and could help advance research further. (aa)