Vaccines to protect against COVID-19 have proved to be effective in preventing severe illness and death due to Coronavirus. However, administeration of different boosters is required to provide protection against all of the Covid variants that have been identified with time. Now, scientists have discovered an antibody that can neutralize all known variants of Coronavirus. The antibody is called SP1-77 and is the result of joint effort and hardwork of researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Duke University. The conclusions of mouse studies that they conducted were recently published in the journal Science Immunology, and they might open a door regarding this concern. Read the article further to know about the antibody that can neutralize all variants of Covid, and the kind of effect it can have on vaccines in the future.
What is SP1-77?
SP1-77, an antibody created by researchers can neutralize all the variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. It was developed after experts altered a mouse model that was originally made to look out for broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV, that can also mutate.
The mice that were used in the study have built-in human immune systems that act the way our immune systems produce antibodies when we get infected with a pathogen. The researchers induced two human gene segments inside the mice, which then developed a number of antibodies that human immune systems might make. The mice were then infected with Coronavirus' spike protein and they developed nine different categories of antibodies that can spike the protein to neutralize it.
Those antibodies were then tested and SP1-77 was able to neutralize Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and all the strains of Omicron variant. The antibody functions in a different way than many other antibodies that get produced due to vaccines. The SP1-77 antibody binds to the RBD, but does not prevent the virus from binding to ACE2 receptors. The antibody functions to restrict the virus from merging its outer membrane with the membrane of your cells, which is what happens to make you fall ill. In a statement, study co-author Tomas Kirchhausen, Ph.D, said, "SP1-77 binds the spike protein at a site that so far has not been mutated in any variant, and it neutralizes these variants by a novel mechanism. These properties may contribute to its broad and potent activity."
What does this mean for the future of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments?
The future of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments is not clear right now. It is important to observe that this study was conducted on mice, not humans, but research on the antibody are still ongoing. says Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said, "This is very early-stage proof-of-concept work to illustrate that broadly neutralizing antibodies can be generated using a mouse model." He further added, "Such work, if replicated and expanded, could form the basis of new monoclonal antibody products as well as a vaccine."
Researchers say that a vaccine that could be effective against all variants of COVID-19 would definitely be of much use. Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York, said, "We’d love to have a vaccine that is active against all circulating variants, including those yet to come. It’s the holy grail of vaccines."
Dr. Russo says that a person would only need to get a COVID vaccine shot or booster once in a year or even less, depending on how long the vaccine's protection can last. The scientists have requested for a patent for the SP1-77 antibody and the mouse model study used to make it, and further plan on creating something that can be used by the general public if everything goes well.