Now it is coming into focus of people who effectively fight off SARS-CoV-2, how antibodies produced work to neutralize the part of the virus responsible for causing infection. At Austin, researchers at The University of Texas describe the finding, good for designing the next generation of vaccines to protect against future emerging coronaviruses or variants of the virus.
One group of antibodies were focused on by the researchers previously that target the receptor-binding domain (RBD), the coronavirus’s spike protein. Since the RBD is the part of the strike that attaches directly to human cells and allows the virus to infect them, it was rightly assumed to be a primary target of the immune system. But four people who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infections, testing blood plasma samples, found out that in the blood, most of the antibodies circulating, on average, about 84% target areas of the viral spike protein outside the RBD.
The team identified many of these non-RBD-directed antibodies act as a potent weapon against the virus by targeting the N-terminal domain (NTD), a region in a part of the spike protein located in what would be the umbrella’s canopy. Viruses in cell cultures are neutralized by these antibodies. Especially in several variants of concern, the NTD is also a part of the viral spike protein that mutates frequently. These variants are so effective at evading our immune systems is that in our arsenals, they can mutate around one of the most common and potent types of antibody.
Despite these maneuvers by SARS-CoV-2, the researchers said about 40% of the circulating antibodies target the S2 subunit (stalk of the spike protein), and this virus cannot change easily. For designing next-generation vaccines or vaccine boosters, that’s good news against variants of concern and even for developing a vaccine that can protect against future pandemics from other strains of the coronavirus.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. It was 1st found in 3 people in Wuhan with pneumonia connected to the cluster of acute respiratory illness cases.