Scientists have identified antibodies that are effective against many different SARS-CoV-2 variants, an advance that paves the way for next-generation vaccines which could protect from different COVID-19 strains.
The antibodies identified in monkeys by a team at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, US are also effective against other SARS viruses like SARS-CoV-1, the highly lethal virus that caused an outbreak in 2003.
The results show that certain animals are more able to make these types of ”pan-SARS virus” antibodies than humans, giving scientists clues as to how to make better vaccines.
The findings, published on Thursday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, reveal the antibody structures that produce this more comprehensive immune response.
The researchers found these neutralizing antibodies recognize a viral region in the spike protein — which the virus uses to enter and infect the cells — that is relatively more conserved.
This means that the region is present across many different SARS viruses, and is, therefore, less likely to mutate over time, they said.
The finding may help develop next-generation vaccines that can offer additional protection against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants and other SARS-related viruses, according to the researchers.