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Antibodies identified for pan-Covid vaccine

New York, August 8

Scientists have discovered human antibodies that can neutralise several different viruses and pave the way for a pan-Covid vaccine. These antibodies have been detected in some people who have recovered from Covid, said the team at University of Washington.

The study, appearing in the journal science, describes research on five such human monoclonal antibodies that can cross-react with a number of beta-coronaviruses. The team examined certain memory B cells from Covid-19 convalescent donors. Memory B cells are white blood cells that recognise and respond to pathogens that have tried to attack the body during a previous encounter.

Out of five promising antibodies that they isolated, the scientists decided to concentrate on one designated S2P6. Molecular structure analysis and functional studies showed that this human monoclonal antibody had impressive breadth: it was able to neutralise three different subgenera of beta-coronaviruses. The scientists observed it did so by inhibiting the virus’ ability to fuse with cell membranes. These antibodies target a structure, called stem helix, in the spike protein of these viruses. The spike protein is critical to the virus’ ability to overtake host cells. The stem helix in the spike protein has remained conserved during the evolution of certain coronaviruses. That means it is much less prone to genetic changes and is similar in various coronaviruses, explained lead author Dora Pinto. — IANS

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