A vulnerable point found in dangerous strains of coronavirus

Scientists in China have found an antibody suitable for a universal coronavirus vaccine

Chinese scientists have found a neutralizing monoclonal antibody 35B5 that is suitable as a base for a universal vaccine against all strains of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This helped researchers find a vulnerability in the coronavirus itself, which is not susceptible to dangerous mutations. This is reported in a preprint of an article published in the bioRxiv repository.

Antibody 35B5, like all neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), targets the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. RBD is a functionally important part of the S-protein that attaches to the cellular ACE2 receptor in various tissues and organs of humans. The coronavirus strains of concern are known to reduce the effectiveness of neutralizing antibodies and approved vaccines.

However, researchers have demonstrated that mAb 35B5 effectively neutralizes wild-type (WT) SARS-CoV-2 and strains of concern, including variant B. 1.617.2 (delta), both in laboratory conditions and inside a living organism. Cryo-electron microscopy showed that 35B5 neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by acting on a unique epitope – a region that is a direct target for antibodies.

This epitope differs from the rest of the receptor-binding domain in that it does not undergo the mutations characteristic of the anxiety-producing strains. Thus, this component of the coronavirus could become a target for universal vaccines.