An international team of scientists has found a rare type of human antibodies that can neutralize several different coronaviruses at once. These antibodies have been detected in several people who have been cured of COVID-19 and can become the basis for a universal vaccine. This is reported in an article published in the journal Science.
In a scientific paper, the researchers described five human monoclonal antibodies that can cross-react with some beta-coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2. The antibodies target a fragment of the secondary structure (the so-called stem helix) of the S-protein of the coronavirus, which binds to the receptor of human cells and promotes the penetration of the virus inside.
The structure of the stem helix remains conservative; that is, it does not undergo significant changes during the evolution of some coronaviruses; that is, it is the same in a number of pathogens. These include those that are dangerous to humans and come from bats and those that cause cold symptoms. To find antibodies to it, the scientists analyzed the memory B-cells of recovering people with COVID-19.
The S2P6 antibody was able to neutralize three different subgenera of beta-coronaviruses, suppressing the ability of the virus to merge with cell membranes and reducing the viral load. Such antibodies are found with a high frequency in people who have been cured of COVID-19 and then were vaccinated, although, in general, COVID-19 relatively rarely provokes their formation.