Scientists identify an ultra-potent antibody that can compensate for all Omicron variants

New York: An international team of researchers has identified a pan-variant and ultra-potent neutralizing antibody that can compensate for Omicron variants.

Called “S2X324,” its neutralizing potential was largely unaffected by any of the Omicron variants tested, said the study, published in the journal Science.

Scientists suggest that combining this antibody with others in a cocktail may reduce the chances of the virus becoming resistant to antibody treatment.

The team looked at several aspects of the effects of exposure to earlier forms of the SARS-CoV-2 spike antigen — or immune-provoking protein — on the immune system’s response to the Omicron variants.

Previous studies by the same team noted that the BA.1 Omicron variant emerged as a “major antigenic shift due to the unprecedented magnitude of immune evasion associated with this worrisome variant.”

They explained that mutations in two of the main antibody targets in the virus explain why there is a greatly reduced ability to neutralize antibodies against these variants, especially in people who have not received booster doses.

“As a result, an increasing number of reinfections occur,” the researchers wrote, “although these cases are generally milder than in infections in immunologically naïve individuals.”

Recent research in this area has been led by the laboratories of David Wiesler, associate professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and David Corti of Humabs BioMed SA of Vir Biotechnology in Switzerland.

The Omicron variants emerged in late 2021 and have marked genetic differences from the progenitor SARS-CoV-2.

The many different mutations in their infectious mechanism have allowed them to escape antibodies derived from the original vaccine series, from a history of infection, or from these two immune system training events.

People who have had a breakthrough infection after vaccination also produce neutralizing antibodies against these variants in the mucus lining the inside of their nose.

But people who only received the vaccine did not generate antibodies in their nasal mucosa.

“This finding supports efforts to develop and evaluate next-generation Covid vaccines that could be delivered intranasally, as the nose is usually where the virus first enters the body,” the scientists said.

The paper’s lead authors are from the Veesler Lab, the Corti Lab, and Washington University in St. Louis.

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