| July 02, 2020
Researchers belonging to the University of Geneva and Geneva University Hospital (HUG) have successfully identified three targets or linear epitopes that are most commonly selected by antibodies from a group of patients who tested positive for COVID-19. Serological tests can be used to see if an individual has developed antibodies to fight against the virus responsible for causing COVID-19.
However, these tests do not provide data about the exact path of the virus that the antibodies get attached to, which is a key piece of information that can help determine the ability of the human immune system to get rid of the infection. As the scientists have reported in the article deposited on MedRxiv, which is an archive for preprints dedicated to medical research, two of the three linear epitopes play a part in the process that is used by the virus to transfer its genetic material into human cells.
Identifying specific targets would prove to be extremely useful for developing effective vaccines and treatments, particularly if they were found to be effective in neutralizing. Professor Nicolas Winssinger, Department of Organic Chemistry, UNIGE’s Faculty of Sciences, explains that the human body continuously makes highly diverse antibodies in a randomized manner, and these trillions of antibodies wait for a possible invader to bind themselves to and find the target immune system they need to destroy. When a new pathogen like SARS-CoV-2 occurs, some of these antibodies can get attached to it and cause an effective immune system response. However, not everyone selects the same antibodies, which consequently means that not everyone develops the same immune response.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has seen a highly diverse range of responses virus some people have not shown symptoms while others have displayed severe or even deadly symptoms. The two epitopes that were identified by the team offer a promising alternative in our search for a new treatment or vaccine, although before that can happen, corresponding antibodies’ neutralizing power needs to be examined.
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