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Sunday, Oct 02, 2022

HKU and HKUST jointly discover an antibody that protects hamsters against Omicron variants

HKU and HKUST jointly discover an antibody that protects hamsters against Omicron variants

A joint study has discovered that an antibody could neutralize all variants of concern (VOCs) of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that caused Covid-19, including the dominantly spreading Omicron BA.1, BA1.1 and BA.2.
The high transmissibility of Omicron variants have posed challenges to the efficacy of current vaccines and antibody immunotherapy.

It is important to investigate whether the host immune response can generate broadly neutralizing antibodies, which is essential for antibody-based immunotherapy and also vaccine optimization to induce equally broad protection.

Researchers of HKUMed together with structural biologists at HKUST have demonstrated that ZCB11, a broadly neutralizing antibody could neutralize all VOCs including Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P1), Delta (B.1.617.2) and Omicron (B.1.1.529) by testing both pseudoviruses and authentic live viruses.

Importantly, ZCB11 administration protects lung infection against both live Omicron and Delta viral challenges in golden Syrian hamsters respectively, under both prophylactic and therapeutic conditions.

“The findings suggested that ZCB11 is a promising antibody drug for biomedical interventions against pandemic SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern,” Professor of HKUMed Chen Zhiwei, who led the study said.

“The high-resolution structural information enabled us to understand the molecular mechanism of ZCB11 responding to a broad SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern,” said Dang Shangyu, Assistant Professor of Division of Life Science of HKUST.

The research is now published online in Nature Communications.
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