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Experimental Vaccine Uses Spike Without Sugar-Coating

(Reuters) – The SARS-CoV-2 virus in lung cells coats itself in glycans produced by the infected person’s body, which help hide parts of the virus that immune cells could target. A vaccine being tested by researchers aims to foil that trick by showing the immune system those virus parts with the sugars stripped away.

By using enzymes in a modified production process, researchers obtained a coronavirus spike protein without the sugar shields, said Chi-Huey Wong of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

Unlike current vaccines, a vaccine that shows the entire uncoated spike to the body would likely be more effective, stimulating broader responses against variants, because the sugars disguise the parts of the spike that the variants all have in common, his team said in Science Translational Medicine.

In mice, their experimental vaccine that presented the immune system with an uncoated spike “elicited stronger immune responses and better protection against variants of concern” compared to vaccines that target the original spike.

Removing the glycan shields to better expose the unmutated parts of the spike “has the potential to be an effective and simple approach for developing a broadly protective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine,” the researchers conclude.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/35JjZOS Science Translational Medicine, online March 1, 2022.

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