Researchers in Vienna discover the “Achilles heel” of the corona virus – Corona virus Vienna

21.03.2023 05:00

(Akt. 21.03.2023 05:00)

Researchers at MedUni Vienna have identified an unknown weakness in the coronavirus. The scientists have also found out which antibodies are crucial for protection against the virus.

The Vienna researchers found that the presence of antibodies against the corona virus is not only decisive for protection against new infections.

Only neutralizing antibodies as an indication of infection protection against coronavirus

The decisive factor is whether these are sufficiently neutralizing antibodies. Only these prevent the virus from docking to human cells, as a team from MedUni Vienna showed in an overview of the current state of knowledge. Even in a SARS-CoV-2 situation that has now become endemic, mutations of the virus and diseases caused by new variants can still be expected. Although the population has immunity due to past infections and vaccinations, vaccinated and vulnerable people repeatedly contract Covid-19, explained the MedUni. In usual antibody measurements, the properties of the antibodies are usually not differentiated, it said.

A special blood test is required to determine the neutralizing antibodies. Due to the infectious virus, classic virus neutralization tests can only be carried out in a few highly specialized laboratories under strict safety requirements. A simple method was developed at MedUni Vienna’s Center for Pathophysiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology as early as 2020, with which protection against new infections against different virus variants can be quickly examined. The analysis of the neutralizing antibodies could provide valuable information to determine the timing and selection of the adapted vaccines for booster vaccinations, explained the research team led by Rudolf Valenta.

Researchers in Vienna find previously unknown vulnerabilities in the corona virus

In another study, the team identified a previously unknown “Achilles’ heel” of SARS-CoV-2 by determining neutralizing antibodies in vaccinated people. It was observed that the ability to defend against viruses is linked to the binding of neutralizing antibodies against a previously unknown epitope, i.e. a specific region on the virus surface. It is noteworthy that this is a part of the virus that has not changed in the different virus variants. MedUni emphasized that this is relevant for the production of improved vaccines. Both findings were published in the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences”.

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