JUL 14, 2020 3:18 PM PDT

What Makes A Strong Antibody Response to Coronavirus

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Scientists all over the world are racing to develop a vaccine that effectively and safely prompts protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2, commonly known simply as “the coronavirus” or “the novel coronavirus.” In a new finding from the Scripps Research Institute, researchers found something that many antibodies against the coronavirus have in common: a gene, IGHV3-53.

Triggering the immune system to produce protective antibodies is a fundamental aspect of a successful vaccine candidate. In their study, researchers analyzed nearly 300 anti-coronavirus antibodies extracted from the blood of individuals recovering from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. They found that the antibody gene IGHV3-53 was majorly involved in encoding many of these antibodies.

Using an imaging technique called X-ray crystallography, researchers then took images of two IGHV3-53-encoded antibodies as they attached to their target site on the coronavirus, the infamous “viral spike protein” that gives the coronavirus its namesake. The binding of an antibody to this target site prevents the virus from binding human cells and beginning the infection process, thus protected the individual from disease.

These images, providing “atomic-structure details,” provide a roadmap for “vaccine designers” by depicting the exact mechanisms by which antibodies bind the viral target site on the coronavirus. For vaccine designers, this roadmap leads them right to their destination: how to produce therapies that prevent the virus from launching an infection inside a vaccinated person’s body. The roadmap could also be applicable in antiviral drug development, where the same information could be used to design treatments for existing infections.

"This type of antibody has been isolated frequently in studies of COVID-19 patients, and we can now understand the structural basis for its interaction with SARS-CoV-2," explained senior author Ian Wilson, DPhil.

Other research studies have found that IGHV3-53-encoded antibodies can also be present in the blood of seemingly healthy individuals. In theory, a vaccine created to prevent COVID-19 could work by enhancing these antibody levels that already exist, providing protection from disease by the coronavirus.

"Coronaviruses have been around for hundreds to thousands of years, and one can imagine that our immune system has evolved in such a way that we carry antibodies like these that can make a powerful response right off the bat,” Wilson explained.

These new research findings will help scientists determine the ingredients of a vaccine that could build protective immunity from COVID-19. In the words of co-author Dennis Burton, PhD, the results provide “important inspiration for effective COVID-19 vaccine design.”

As of Tuesday, July 14, 2020, there have been at least 3.4 million cases of coronavirus infection and 135,916 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, according to the New York Times.

Sources: Scripps Research Institute, Science, New York Times

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUN 03, 2021
Immunology
Inhalable Anti-COVID Nanobodies Show Promising Results in Hamsters
JUN 03, 2021
Inhalable Anti-COVID Nanobodies Show Promising Results in Hamsters
Nanobodies are small fragments of monoclonal antibodies that from a therapeutic perspective are more stable and cheaper ...
JUN 16, 2021
Immunology
Researchers Identify a Novel COVID Therapeutic Target and Mortality Predictor
JUN 16, 2021
Researchers Identify a Novel COVID Therapeutic Target and Mortality Predictor
Researchers at King’s College London have discovered a new antiviral target to combat COVID-19: the galectin-3-bin ...
JUL 19, 2021
Health & Medicine
The Pandemic and Fewer Asthma Attacks?
JUL 19, 2021
The Pandemic and Fewer Asthma Attacks?
Asthma sufferers: Quarantine during the pandemic may have not only helped you avoid COVID but more asthma attacks as wel ...
AUG 17, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Air Quality Changes Throughout Lockdowns Prove Optimistic
AUG 17, 2021
Air Quality Changes Throughout Lockdowns Prove Optimistic
COVID-19 lockdowns have reduced human activities and, subsequently, a reduction in air-polluting emissions. Air quality ...
SEP 14, 2021
Health & Medicine
This is your brain on doom: Steven Pinker's New Book on Rational and Irrational Societies
SEP 14, 2021
This is your brain on doom: Steven Pinker's New Book on Rational and Irrational Societies
In his new book, cognitive psychologist and linguist, Steven Pinker, argues for more rational societies
OCT 05, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Drug repurposing for COVID-19
OCT 05, 2021
Drug repurposing for COVID-19
The coronavirus disease that began in 2019 (COVID-19) has infected nearly 235 million individuals and led to t ...
Loading Comments...