Sars-CoV-2 has already had a few surprises in store in this pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, few experts reckoned with the joy of mutation, i.e. the ability to change. The changes in the spike protein are particularly decisive. This is the point at which the virus docks onto the human cell. Since this protein in particular has changed several times in the different variants, it is also difficult for our immune system to provide the right answer in the form of neutralizing antibodies in the long term.
For this reason, experts around the world are looking for antibodies that attack the virus in those areas that don’t change or don’t change that much. In the case of Sars-CoV-2, one such site is the stalk of the spike protein. Experts from the University of Alabama in Birmingham should now have found just such antibodies, as the German medical journal reports. The findings were originally published in the journal PLoS Pathogens. If Sars-CoV-2 mutated on the stick, this could lead to instability of the virus.
An antibody against all variants
A search was made for such antibodies in the blood of patients who had had a Covid 19 infection. A total of 17 antibodies were detected that bind to the stalk of the spike protein. Four of them were able to neutralize the beta and omicron variants in addition to Sars-CoV-2.
However, the antibody with the catchy name 1249A8 performed best. Here, the experts were able to prove that it can not only bind to the wild type and its variants beta, gamma, delta, epsilon and omicron, but also neutralize the first Sars-CoV and Mers-CoV. Two corona viruses that cause harmless colds were also kept in check by this antibody.
These new research results could lead to the development of new antibody therapies. Because currently there are very few of these monoclonal antibodies that are also effective against omicron. Antibodies are proteins that the body produces to fight off pathogens. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the lab and are designed to incapacitate the virus once it has been infected. Monoclonal means that the antibodies used are all the same and attack the virus at a clearly defined target. In contrast, after a vaccination, the human body forms a mix of antibodies that can bind the virus at different points. In this case, experts speak of polyclonal antibodies.