New Delhi: A pair of neutralising antibodies — isolated from a patient who recovered from COVID-19 — has been identified by scientists that may offer therapeutic benefits and help design molecule antivirals and vaccine candidates to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

As per reports, the antibodies identified by researchers, including those from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, bind to the glycoprotein spike of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, blocking the spike’s ability to bind to the human ACE2 receptor and mediate viral entry into host cells.

Researchers said that the two preliminary tests of the two antibodies namely B38 and H4 tested through a mouse model resulted in a reduction of virus titers.

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A publication of the journal Science in its findings suggested that the antibodies may offer therapeutic benefits — in addition to informing the design of small molecule therapeutics and vaccine candidates to fight COVID-19.

Yan Wu, a researcher from Capital Medical University, China, and colleagues found that the antibodies can each bind simultaneously to different epitopes on the spike’s receptor-binding domain (RBD).

The researchers said that due to this binding, both antibodies together may confer a stronger neutralizing effect than either antibody on its own — a prediction supported by in-vitro experiments.

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According to the researchers, this feature also means that should one of the viral epitopes mutate in a way that prevents the binding of one of the two antibodies, the other may still retain its neutralising activity.

It confirmed that by imaging the structure of the viral spike’s RBD bound to B38, the antibody binds to a subset of the amino acids bound by ACE2. This provides an explanation for why the B38 antibody confers such strong neutralizing effects, the researchers added.

There were suggestions that a “cocktail” containing both antibodies could provide direct therapeutic benefits for COVID-19 patients.

The finding of the study regarding the viral spike epitopes could also help the development of small molecule antivirals and vaccine candidates to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the researchers added.

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