In a recent study published in Nature, researchers discovered a potential new vaccine to be quite effective against a variety of coronavirus infections, including SARS-CoV-2 as well as the original SARS-CoV-1 and other similar bat coronaviruses.
The new vaccine called ‘pan-coronavirus vaccine’ is said to trigger neutralizing antibodies through a nanoparticle.
According to the study from the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, the nanoparticle is composed of the coronavirus part that allows it to bind to the body’s cell receptors and is formulated with a chemical booster called an adjuvant. Success of this vaccine in primates is highly relevant to humans.
Before now, the team had found a person who had been infected with SARS developed antibodies capable of neutralizing multiple coronaviruses, giving credence to the fact that a pan-coronavirus might be possible.
The weak spot for the coronaviruses is their receptor-binding domain, located on the spike that links the viruses to receptors in human cells. While this binding site enables it to enter the body and cause infection, it can also be targeted by antibodies.
The research team pinpointed one particular receptor-binding domain site that is present on SARS-CoV-2, its circulating variants and SARS-related bat viruses that make them highly vulnerable to cross-neutralizing antibodies.
Higher neutralizing levels
They then designed a nanoparticle displaying this vulnerable spot. The nanoparticle is combined with a small molecule adjuvant that boosts the body’s immune response.
In tests of its effect on monkeys, the nanoparticle vaccine blocked COVID-19 infection by 100%.
The new vaccine also shows significantly higher neutralizing levels in the animals than current vaccine platforms or natural infection in humans.
The team says this approach not only provided protection against SARS-CoV-2, but the antibodies induced by the vaccine also neutralized variants of concern that originated in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.
And the induced antibodies reacted with quite a large panel of coronaviruses.