Experts at Scripps Research have made progress in the work towards a vaccine for COVID-19. Their new study found that a specific type of antibody, which was found in patients recovering from the coronavirus, could be crucial in keeping the virus at bay.
According to their work, these antibodies are powered by the gene IGHV3-53. In recent trials, the gene has been found to be effective in repelling COVID-19. These findings are encouraging, as they could be instrumental in making advances towards an effective vaccine.
“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,” said researcher Ian Wilson.
Fighting the virus
The researchers analyzed blood samples from recovering COVID-19 patients for this study, which ultimately yielded nearly 300 different antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that our bodies create in an effort to fight off various infections and viruses.
The researchers explained that antibodies are powered by combinations of genes. In analyzing the genes of each different antibody, the researchers discovered that the IGHV3-53 gene was the most commonly replicated among all of the samples they analyzed. They learned that antibodies that contained this gene were the most effective at fighting the coronavirus infection.
Further analysis on this specific gene suggests that it is a great place to start in vaccine development. For starters, the IGHV3-53 gene is found in smaller quantities in people who haven’t been infected with 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, so to speak,” said Wilson.
The researchers analyzed the gene in both healthy people and those infected with the virus and found minimal changes. This was particularly promising when thinking about a vaccine, as the gene could easily be targeted without fear of constant mutations.
With the timetable for a vaccine unclear, the findings from this study are a huge step forward in vaccine research. According to researcher Dennis Burton, these findings “provide important inspiration for effective COVID-19 vaccine design.”