Mutations in the Coronavirus make vaccine development more difficult

Strains of viruses containing mutations isolated in India could cause vaccine development efforts to fail. Photo: AP.
Strains of viruses containing mutations isolated in India could cause vaccine development efforts to fail. Photo: AP.

Published research shows that mutations in the corona virus strain isolated in India can make vaccine development more difficult.

The strain of corona virus isolated in India carries a mutation that could lead to a worldwide failure in vaccine development, the South China Morning Post quoted researchers from Australia and Taiwan.

This un-reviewed study indicates that mutations have occurred in the dendritic protein that helps the virus bind to human cells.

This spiny structure targets cells containing ACE2, the enzyme found in the lungs (also known as a receptor). This receptor also allows corona virus to cause SARS to infect humans.

Scientists have studied antibodies targeting this receptor, but a sudden structural change could render them useless.

The team, led by Wei-Lung Wang from Changhua National University of Education in Taiwan and a collaborator at Murdoch University in Australia, said it was the first study on mutations that could threaten development of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“The results of this study show that Sars-CoV-2 mutations with different epitope structures (which antibodies attach to) may appear at any time,” the team wrote in a public paper. published in preliminary form on on 11/4.

“This means that developing anti-Sars-CoV-2 vaccines is in danger of being in vain.” The virus sample in the study was taken from a patient in Kerala, India, in early January.

This patient is a medical student returning from Wuhan. However, this strain is not the same as any strain identified in Wuhan and appears to be an exception compared to variants in other countries.

The researchers found that the mutation occurred in the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spiny protein. Computer simulations show that the RBD mutation could eliminate a hydrogen bond in the prickly protein.

Without this link, the virus is less likely to bind to ACE2 found in the lungs and other organs.

Since it was first confirmed in January, scientists have detected more than 3,500 mutations of the Covid-19 virus, according to the China National Biological Information Center.


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