“Escape mutations” could help SARS-CoV-2 evade immune attack
Researchers in the United States have identified mutations within severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – the agent that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – that can reduce antibody binding to the virus, potentially mediating its escape from immune attack.
Using blood samples from patients who had recovered from COVID-19, the team tested all possible mutations within the spike protein that might use escape pathways within epitopes that are targeted by convalescent plasma.
The team – from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington – found that antibody binding was common in two immunodominant regions, but that there were many unique pathways of escape within these regions.
These escape mutations also differed between individuals, suggesting that antibody binding sites and escape mutants could vary significantly from person to person
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