MAY 04, 2021 7:00 AM PDT

One Vaccine to Rule Them All

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandes

There are currently five variants of concern in the U.S., mutant forms of the COVID-causing coronavirus. These variants have been red-flagged by health authorities due to their ability to spread more easily or cause more severe forms of COVID-19. For now, scientists don’t fully understand if these variants could push back the progress we’ve made with COVID-19 therapies and vaccinations, many of which were designed to target the spike protein from the “original” SARS-CoV-2.

Will the vaccines we have still be effective for future, more problematic SARS-CoV-2 variants? Experiments to answer this question are currently underway. In the meantime, researchers have also been looking into the possibility of developing “pan-virus vaccines” that could shield us against emerging variants as well as related coronaviruses. 

These special vaccines trigger our immune systems to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies, Y-shaped proteins capable of recognizing and eliminating multiple strains of the same virus. Many such antibodies have been naturally produced and isolated from individuals infected by viruses such as HIV. In theory, the right vaccine could elicit a similar protective response in people. The most attractive benefit of such pan-virus vaccines is that they could be manufactured and deployed before the next coronavirus threat emerges.

Encouragingly, scientists have already identified cross-neutralizing antibodies that inactivate different strains of related coronaviruses. In a study published in Science, researchers found hundreds of antibodies from a patient who was previously infected by SARS-CoV, a coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003. Interestingly, nine of the antibodies they found in this donor could neutralize both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. Most of these targeted the domain of the spike protein that binds to ACE2 on human cells, a step required for viral entry during infection. Some of these antibodies could also neutralize a bat SARS-related virus, indicating that these could form the blueprints for the design of future pan-virus vaccines.

According to a recent commentary by experts in the field, creating these vaccines will be challenging but possible.

“It might not always be possible to obtain the ideal breadth of responses across a whole family of viruses,” wrote the authors. “But compromises can be made, and methods for delivering cocktails of antibodies (two or three, say) and vaccines are becoming feasible.”

 


Sources: Science, Nature.

About the Author
PhD
Interested in health technology and innovation.
You May Also Like
AUG 22, 2022
Immunology
A Lifetime of Mutations is Seen in Aging Immune Cells
AUG 22, 2022
A Lifetime of Mutations is Seen in Aging Immune Cells
Researchers have used advanced sequencing techniques to analyze immune cells in great detail. This work has shown that o ...
AUG 27, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Universal Vaccine for Influenza A and B Shows Promise in Mice
AUG 27, 2022
Universal Vaccine for Influenza A and B Shows Promise in Mice
A new universal flu vaccine is effective against both influenza A and B viruses in mice. The corresponding study was pub ...
SEP 26, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
The Link Between Diabetes and UTIs is Explained
SEP 26, 2022
The Link Between Diabetes and UTIs is Explained
Diabetes is a chronic disease that causes high levels of blood glucose. This is a result of the pancreas producing insuf ...
OCT 19, 2022
Plants & Animals
Prunes Help Protect Bone Health from Inflammation in Menopausal Women
OCT 19, 2022
Prunes Help Protect Bone Health from Inflammation in Menopausal Women
Conditions like osteoporosis affect an estimated 10 million adults over 50 years of age, with a much higher incidence ra ...
NOV 04, 2022
Immunology
From Fleas to Natural Selection: The Black Plague & Modern Immunology
NOV 04, 2022
From Fleas to Natural Selection: The Black Plague & Modern Immunology
Acknowledgments of our many physiological changes since the evolution of modern humans have been studied profusely, espe ...
NOV 14, 2022
Cancer
Breast Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise as it Enters Phase 2 Trial
NOV 14, 2022
Breast Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise as it Enters Phase 2 Trial
About 20% of breast cancers exhibit elevated levels of a protein known as HER2.  You may have heard the classifier ...
Loading Comments...