Israeli scientists say they have identified antibodies so powerful at neutralizing the coronavirus that they could eliminate the need for more vaccine boosters.
A Tel Aviv University research team experimented with multiple antibodies and found that two of them specifically neutralized all known strains of coronaviruses, including Delta and Omicron, in a laboratory setting.
Antibody infusions are already used to treat some coronavirus patients, and the microbiologist Dr. Natalia Freund, who directed the new study, said the antibodies she discovered could be used to formulate particularly effective infusions.
Based on how they perform under laboratory conditions, the antibodies could provide the extra protection from today’s booster shots, she said, adding that this could potentially make the extra shots unnecessary for those vaccinated.
“COVID-19 infection can cause severe disease, and we know that providing antibodies in the first few days of infection can stop the spread of the virus,” Freund said.
“So, by using effective antibody therapy, we may not have to give the entire population a booster dose every time a new variant emerges,” she added.
On a technical level, Freund believes, the reason for the success of the two antibodies appears to be that they bind to different parts of the coronavirus spike protein than most other antibodies.
Freund’s latest research, peer-reviewed and published in Communications Biology, comes from an investigation that began in her lab in October 2020.
Working with doctoral students Michael Mor and Ruofan Lee, she sequenced all B immune system cells in the blood of people in Israel who had recovered from the original COVID strain and isolated nine antibodies produced by the patients.
The first two antibodies have now been tested against a range of variants and performed well against all variants.
“Based on our findings, the primary antibody, TAU-1109, was 92 percent effective at neutralizing the Omicron strain and 90 percent effective at neutralizing the Delta strain,” Freund said.
“The second antibody, TAU-2310, neutralized the Omicron variant with 84% potency and the Delta variant with 97% potency,” she added.
These antibodies were named TAU because they were identified at Tel Aviv University.
To make sure her lab work was done correctly, Freund sent the antibodies to lab cultures at UC San Diego to check their effectiveness against the live virus and at the Bar-Ilan University School of Medicine in Galilee. Further testing. These studies confirmed her findings.
Antibodies apparently offer strong protection, Freund said, because they prevent infection immediately after recovery — but then they weaken and immunity decreases. In her view, this makes it logical to invest in artificially enhanced antibodies, which she hopes to do with the antibodies she discovered.
“For reasons we still don’t fully understand, the levels of antibodies against COVID-19 dropped significantly after three months,” she explained. “That’s why we see people getting infected again and again, even after 3 vaccinations. The same is true after the vaccine.
“Infection with COVID-19 can cause severe disease, and we know that providing antibodies in the first few days of infection can stop the spread of the virus. So by using effective antibody treatments, we may not have to send the entire The population provides a booster dose.”