Understanding the body ‘s immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is crucial in developing effective therapies and permanent vaccines. Of particular interest is the neutralization of antibodies, which can prevent the virus from entering and entering human cells, helping the immune system to cleanse the virus and prevent future infections.
Scientists at the Ragon Institute MGH, MIT and Harvard, publish in the journal Cell, showing that the ability to neutralize antibodies developed in COVID-19 patients was significantly reduced in those with severe or fatal disease compared with patients with milder infections.
Strong neutralizing antibodies were associated with a positive outcome. We found that if a person neutralized antibodies that were more effective at infecting the virus, they were more likely to have better clinical outcomes. “
Alejandro Balazs, PhD, Ragon Core Member and Lead Author of the Study
The Balazs group developed an automated assay that could quantify the ability to neutralize antibodies in hundreds of COVID-19 patient samples simultaneously. They used this technology to study samples from 113 COVID-19 patients, comparing milder cases with lethal and lethal ones to understand the nuances of the antibody response.
They found that patients with severe or lethal COVID-19 had significantly fewer neutralizing antibodies than patients with milder cases. In fact, a model they built suggested that measuring the potency of these neutral antibodies could predict patient outcomes.
“By measuring the neutralization potential of patient antibodies,” says Wilfredo Garcia-Beltran, MD, PhD, co-author of the study, “we may be able to identify patients at risk of serious disease or death and to be used to guide treatment options.
The neutralizing antibodies were also effective against a recently reported SARS-CoV-2 mutation called D614G, indicating that the antibody responses that develop in the majority of patients may be immune even as the virus moves. However, by modifying the assay to look at the neutralization potential of pre-emergent coronavirus identified in bats, they found that the antibody responses were largely ineffective, suggesting that the strain may This coronavirus can be a threat if it ever enters humans.
“While the ability to protect against migratory forms of the virus is promising,” says Evan Lam, who was also the co-author of the study, “these findings suggest, in order to prepare for pandemics in time. future, that we need to look at developing vaccines capable of providing a broad immune response. “
Massachusetts General Hospital
Garcia-Beltran, WF, et al. (2020) COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies predict disease severity and survival. Cell. doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.12.015.