Lab-made virus mimics Covid-19 virus, can aid vaccine discovery

Lab-made virus mimics Covid-19 virus, can aid vaccine discovery

Lab-made virus mimics Covid-19 virus, can aid vaccine discovery

\Recovering from COVID-19 may not offer much protection from future infections, particularly for those with only a mild case, researchers said in the New England Journal of Medicine. The virus could be used to assess whether an experimental vaccine elicits neutralizing antibodies, to measure whether a COVID-19 survivor carries enough neutralizing antibodies to donate plasma to COVID-19 patients, or to identify antibodies with the potential to be developed into antiviral drugs.

Still, experts noted that the body's immune system has more than one way to defend against viruses it has already encountered, so the findings don't dash hopes for a vaccine.

The role of antibodies is to latch on to foreign substances like the coronavirus and mark it for other immune cells, such as T-cells, to kill. The resulting hybrid virus infects cells and is recognized by antibodies just like SARS-CoV-2, but can be handled under ordinary laboratory safety conditions.

UCLA researchers wrote that a small study of 34 patients, with a median age of 43, found that the antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 - the virus that causes the disease - decreased by roughly half every 73 days, and would likely disappear entirely within a year at such a rate.

Therefore, these vaccine strategies may require further evaluation, the authors say. David Ho, MD, Professor of Medicine, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, who has also directed the latest study, stated, "We now have a collection of antibodies that's more potent and diverse compared to other antibodies that have been found so far, and they are ready to be developed into treatments".

To do this, the researchers took antibodies from 40 patients who had been ill with severe CoViD-19 and transfused them into the blood of the volunteers who agreed.

"Humans certainly develop antibodies against other SARS-CoV-2 proteins, but it's the antibodies against spike that seem to be most important for protection", Whelan said.

The true number of COVID-19 cases in the United States may be 6 to 24 times higher than reported, according to a new study published Tuesday. When a new virus is first encountered, more generalized forms of antibodies are quickly produced, but their specificity against the virus gets increasingly precise as time goes on. The researchers removed VSV's surface-protein gene and replaced it with the one from SARS-CoV-2, known as spike.

One of the most dire mysteries surrounding the coronavirus, is whether or not recovered COVID-19 patients have immunity from the disease.

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