Emory researchers contribute to better understanding of shared immune responses to COVID

An international team of researchers at Emory, elsewhere in the U.S. and India recently reported on the molecular structure of three newly generated antibodies from individuals in India who recovered from COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic. The new antibodies strongly neutralized the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha and Delta variants, poorly neutralized Beta and failed to neutralize Omicron. The research, co-authored by a team including Anamika Patel, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry, and Eric Ortlund, PhD, professor of biochemistry, was published recently in the journal Structure. The research detailed the precise molecular mechanisms by which all three antibodies targeted SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins, a key step in developing improved antibody therapies that are less vulnerable to viral mutation.

Their findings are a major contribution to a better understanding of the biological processes that drive shared immune responses and how the Omicron variant managed to escape these. The authors say this is a critical component in fast-tracking vaccines and other therapies against multiple COVID-19 variants and subvariants that continually emerge and escape neutralization by existing antibodies and vaccines.

Dr. Ortlund is a faculty member in the BCDB and MSP programs.

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