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Versatile coronavirus antibody may be starting point for broader-acting vaccines

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most people in the United States already had been sick with a coronavirus, albeit a far less dangerous one. That's because at least four coronaviruses in the same general family as SARS-CoV-2 cause the benign yet annoying illness known as the common cold.

In a new study that appears in Nature Communications, scientists from Scripps Research investigated how the immune system's previous exposure to cold-causing coronaviruses impact immune response to COVID-19. In doing so, they discovered one cross-reactive coronavirus antibody that's triggered during a COVID-19 infection.

The findings will help in the pursuit of a vaccine or antibody treatment that works against most or all coronaviruses, says senior author Raiees Andrabi, PhD, an investigator in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology.

"By examining blood samples collected before the pandemic and comparing those with samples from people who had been sick with COVID-19, we were able to pinpoint antibody types that cross reacted with benign coronaviruses as well as SARS-CoV-2," says Andrabi, who works closely with the laboratory of professor Dennis Burton, PhD.

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