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Researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland believe they have found a new approach to developing a vaccine that could provide a lasting effect. It may also work on other coronaviruses, not just the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
The NIH team reported their findings in the scientific journal Cell Host & Microbe.
The key to how the NIH vaccine works is a part of the virus called the “spiral of the spine.” It's a structure within a protein, the part of a virus that helps it take over and infect our cells. Many current vaccines target the spike protein, but none of them target the “spiral helix”. While the spike protein changes a lot as the virus mutates, the “helix” remains unchanged.
Vaccines that target and “bind” with spike protein, may lose effectiveness if the virus develops in this area. The great thing about the “spiral of the spine” from an immunological point of view, that it does not mutate. At least it hasn't mutated yet three years after the start of the COVID pandemic.
To test their hypothesis, NIH researchers extracted antibodies from 19 recovering COVID patients and tested them on samples from five different coronaviruses, including SARS -CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1 and MERS. The NIH team has isolated the best anti-coil spiral antibody, COV89-22, and has also tested it in hamsters infected with the latest Omicron strains of the COVID variant.
decrease in pathology indicators”, – discovered by scientists. “These results identify a class of antibodies that neutralize coronaviruses by acting on the helix.”
However, more work remains to be done before a new vaccine reaches every pharmacy. In any case, it is encouraging that scientists are gradually moving towards the creation of a universal vaccine against a wide range of coronaviruses that is resistant to mutations.
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