New Studies Suggest Immune System as the Key in Shaping SARS-CoV-2: Leading to Big Advancements in the COVID-19 Vaccine Market

Posted On April 28, 2021     

The second wave of novel Coronavirus has hit the world hard with most governments racing to curb the losses and urging its citizens to take precautions. However, the new strains of the virus make the fight against the virus even harder as the research and knowledge on the increasing number of strains is scarce.

Recently, two studies have brought forward research that is utterly crucial in these hard times. The researchers have suggested that immune system place a key role in shaping the evolution of SARS –CoV2virus that initially caused COVID-19). Both researches are ground-shattering development for COVID-19 Vaccine Market as the evidence and novel technology behind them would eventually better the understanding that is currently present on SARS-CoV-2. In turn it could help guide scientists to advance their treatments and vaccination efforts.

The first study involved further improving the information on SARS-CoV-2 through investigation of a closely related virus that has been in existence for a longer time, known as common-cold virus 229E. Both SARS-CoV-2 and 229E are part of the Coronavirus family and feature the “spike protein” that makes infection of human cells possible. It has been noted that an individual infected with 229E develops an immune response against the spike protein that protects him for re-infection. However, the immunity stays only for a few years and it is unclear whether the re-infection occurs because the immune response has ended or because 229E has evolved further.

To bring clarity to the situation, the team collected serum samples from patients in the 1980s-90s. They tested the activity of serum samples against spike proteins from both the 229E strain and the ones that evolved later. Researchers discovered that old spike proteins were vulnerable against the older sera. But they also noticed that modern spike proteins did not lose against older sera but were vulnerable to sera from new patients.

Through this analysis, it can be concluded that modern strains of 229E have accumulated spike protein mutations through them which empowers them to dodge older sera. This brings us to a huge possibility that SARS-CoV-2 or other coronaviruses might evolve as well. This denotes that we may require periodic updates of the COVID-19 vaccines for it to stay effective even against the new strains.

The second study entailed development of new technology to genetically sequence SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. In turn, making it possible to detect multiple SARS-CoV-2 strains that might be present in a patient’s body all at the same time. The new system brings into focus the virus diversity within patients and helps in tracking the changes in new SARS-CoV-2 strains during acute infection.

Both the studies that have been brought forward are a tremendous contribution to the field of science as it deepens the understanding of the community about the ways in which the new SARS-CoV-2 strains may arise against the immune system activity. The developments might even be trail blazers for additional research and improved treatments. 

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