Chinese molecular biologists have found that one of the antibodies discovered during the 2003 SARS epidemic can neutralize the virus that is causing the current pneumonia outbreak in China and several other countries. This is stated in an article published in the electronic scientific library bioRxiv.
"Antibody CR3022, which neutralizes the SARS virus, very actively binds to the 2019-nCoV virus. At the same time, it is noteworthy that the more powerful antibodies m396 and CR3014 did not respond to the virus, which indicates the unique structure of the protein by which the new pathogen infects human cells. ", - the researchers write.
This discovery, according to scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and Fudan University in Shanghai (China), gives rise to hope that the substance CR3022, in combination with other antibodies that can bind to the new coronavirus, will quickly create the first effective remedies for the treatment of this forms of pneumonia and stopping the epidemic.
Molecular biologists came to this conclusion after watching how a copy of the RBD protein, which the virus uses to enter human cells, interacts with various antibodies that were discovered in patients' bodies or created during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
The close relationship of these viruses and the similar structure of their versions of RBD, as the scientists suggested, gave some chance that these molecules could neutralize the new pathogen. On the one hand, these hopes were justified in the case of CR3022, but all the other four antibodies, including the synthetic drug m336, created several years ago at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, did not react at all to the viral protein.
This discovery greatly surprised the scientists, as their computer calculations suggested the opposite and did not indicate that small differences in the RBD structure would make 2019-nCoV invulnerable to the action of these protein molecules. Now Chinese researchers are studying blood samples from patients in the hope of discovering other antibodies that will bind to the virus more actively than CR3022 does.