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New Vaccination Strategy Developed That Could Prevent Future Coronavirus Outbreaks

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Beating COVID-19 Coronavirus

Researchers in Japan have developed a vaccination technique in mice that promotes the manufacturing of antibodies that may neutralize not solely SARS-CoV-2 however a broad vary of different coronaviruses as effectively. If efficiently translated to people, the strategy, to be revealed right now (October 8, 2021), within the Journal of Experimental Medicine, might result in the event of a next-generation vaccine able to stopping future coronavirus pandemics.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus answerable for COVID-19 enters human cells through the use of its spike protein to bind to a cell floor receptor referred to as ACE2. The receptor-binding area of the spike protein consists of two elements: a “core” area that may be very related in all coronaviruses, and a extra specialised “head” area that mediates binding to ACE2.

Antibodies that acknowledge the pinnacle area of the spike receptor-binding area can block the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cells however supply little safety in opposition to different coronaviruses, such because the SARS-CoV-1 virus answerable for the extreme acute respiratory syndrome outbreak of 2002. Antibodies that acknowledge the core area of the spike receptor-binding area, in distinction, can stop the entry of varied coronaviruses into human cells. Unfortunately, nevertheless, people uncovered to the viral spike protein have a tendency to supply numerous antibodies in opposition to the pinnacle area however few, if any, antibodies that acknowledge the core area.

SARS-CoV-2 Receptor-Binding Domain

The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein drives the virus’s entry into cells as a result of its receptor-binding area—consisting of a head area (crimson) and a core area (blue)—binds to the human ACE2 protein (grey). Credit: © 2021 Shinnakasu et al. Originally revealed in Journal of Experimental Medicine. DOI: 10.1084/jem.20211003

“This suggests that, although the generation of broadly neutralizing antibodies is possible, SARS-CoV-2 infection and current vaccines are unlikely to provide protection against the emergence of novel SARS-related viruses,” explains Professor Tomohiro Kurosaki from the WPI Immunology Frontier Research Center at Osaka University in Japan. “Given that prior coronavirus epidemics such as SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV have occurred due to zoonotic coronaviruses crossing the species barrier, the potential for the emergence of similar viruses in the future poses a significant threat to global public health, even in the face of effective vaccines for current viruses.”

Kurosaki and colleagues determined to check a brand new vaccination technique that may allow the immune system to supply extra broadly neutralizing antibodies. The researchers genetically engineered the receptor-binding area of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, masking its head area in extra sugar molecules. These sugar molecules might defend the pinnacle area from the immune system and enhance the manufacturing of antibodies in opposition to the unshielded core area of the receptor-binding area.

Indeed, mice immunized with these engineered proteins produced a a lot larger proportion of antibodies recognizing the core area of the spike protein receptor-binding area. These antibodies have been capable of neutralize the mobile entry of not solely SARS-CoV-2 but in addition SARS-CoV-1 and three SARS-like coronaviruses from bats and pangolins.

Much work will must be completed to translate this technique to people, however, says Kurosaki, “our data suggest that engineered versions of the spike receptor-binding domain could be a useful component for the development of broadly protective, next-generation vaccines to prevent future coronavirus pandemics.”

Reference: “Glycan engineering of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain elicits cross-neutralizing antibodies for SARS-related viruses” 8 October 2021, Journal of Experimental Medicine.
DOI: 10.1084/jem.20211003

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