According to a review, a new vaccine candidate has proven successful in protecting monkeys and mice against the novel coronavirus and its variants, as well as similar bat coronaviruses that could theoretically trigger the next pandemic, which first appeared in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil.
The findings, which were published in the journal Nature, are extremely important to humans, according to the researchers. A nanoparticle made up of the coronavirus component activates neutralising antibodies in the pan-coronavirus vaccine. According to the researchers, this component allows the vaccine to bind to the body’s cell receptors and is formulated with a chemical booster called an adjuvant. “We started this research last spring with the assumption that, like all viruses, mutations will occur in the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19,” said study senior author Barton F. Haynes of the Duke University Human Vaccine Institute in the United States.“Not only did the new method defend against SARS-CoV-2, but the vaccine-induced antibodies also neutralised variants of concern that emerged in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil,” Haynes explained.
He went on to say that the induced antibodies reacted with a wide range of coronaviruses. Haynes and colleagues drew on previous research on SARS, a respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-1 coronavirus. They discovered that an individual infected with SARS produced antibodies capable of neutralising multiple coronaviruses, implying the possibility of a pan-coronavirus. The coronaviruses’ Achilles heel, according to the researchers, is their receptor-binding domain, which is found on the spike that connects the viruses to receptors in human cells.
They claim that although this binding site allows it to enter the body and cause infection, antibodies may also attack it.
SARS-CoV-2, its circulating versions, and SARS-related bat viruses all have one receptor-binding domain site that makes them extremely resistant to cross-neutralizing antibodies, according to the researchers.
The team then created a nanoparticle that depicted the vulnerable area.
According to the researchers, the nanoparticle is paired with a small molecule adjuvant formulated with alum that boosts the body’s immune response.
The nanoparticle vaccine completely prevented COVID-19 infection in monkeys, according to the researchers.
The new vaccine also elicited substantially higher neutralising levels in the animals than existing vaccine platforms or natural infection in humans, according to the researchers.
Kevin Saunders, the study’s lead author, explained, “Basically what we’ve done is taken several copies of a small part of the coronavirus to make the body’s immune system react to it in a heightened way.”
“We discovered that not only did this improve the body’s ability to prevent the virus from causing infection, but it also increased the frequency with which it attacks this cross-reactive site of vulnerability on the spike protein,” Saunders explained.
This is why the vaccine is successful against SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2, and at least four common variants, as well as other animal coronaviruses, according to the researchers.
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