Researchers discover antibody that can potentially block, ‘neutralize’ coronavirus

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An antibody, named S309, found in the blood of a patient who recovered from SARS can potentially “block” and “neutralize” the COVID-19 coronavirus, researchers found.

The virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003, is a distant cousin of the novel COVID-19 virus that has currently infected more 4.8 million people worldwide and claimed the lives of over 320,000 people.

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The coronavirus has S-proteins on its surface, constituting its crown-like appearance, according to researchers at Westlake University in China.

Those S-proteins help the coronavirus to bind with the ACE2 protein in the blood, causing the infection in the human body.

“If we think of the human body as a house and [COVID-19] as a robber, then ACE2 would be the doorknob of the house’s door. Once the S-protein grabs it, the virus can enter the house,” Liang Tao, a Principle Investigator at Westlake University had said back in February.

The US and European researchers discovered that the S309 antibody, along with other antibodies, “further enhanced SARS-CoV-2 neutralization,” according to their paper published on Monday on the online science journal “Nature.”

“The antibody is an immune signaling molecule that attaches to a viral protein called spike, which both viruses use to enter human cells. The team’s structural analysis shows that S309 binds to a location on spike that is distinct from the attachment site of some of the person’s other coronavirus-targeted antibodies,” the online science journal “Nature” said.

“S309 bears the promise to be an effective countermeasure to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2,” the researchers said.

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