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Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Chinese Researchers Stumble Upon 'Godsend' Synthetic Antibody That Could Neutralize Omicron Variant

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Microscope - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.02.2022
Scientists in Shanghai believe they have found a powerful new synthetic antibody that can beat the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The news comes as the US Food and Drug Administration moves to shut down production of older antibody drugs that have little effect on the variant.
When the Omicron variant burst onto the scene in November 2021, it created uncountable headaches for health professionals around the globe as it seemed to evade every defense used to limit the spread of previous variants of the virus, including masks, vaccines, and antibody treatments. However, a group of researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai believe they have found a recipe for a synthetic antibody that could turn the tide against Omicron.

Their work was described in the article “Combating the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant with non-Omicron neutralizing antibodies,” which was published on the bioRxiv preprint website and has not been peer-reviewed.

Professor Huang Jinghe, a Fudan instructor and lead scientist in the study, told the South China Morning Post he had stumbled upon the antibody by accident, synthesizing it from two different natural antibodies produced by human immune cells in response to encountering SARS-CoV-2.
Individually, both natural antibodies stood little chance of stopping Omicron, but in this new form, the man-made antibody was able to breach the virus’ defenses using what Huang described as a series of “combo moves,” comparing it to the complex string of moves possible in video games like “Street Fighter.”
“There are very few antibodies that can neutralize Omicron in the world. I feel like I’ve been hit by God’s grace,” she said, calling the find a “godsend” and saying it could put humans “a step ahead of the race” against the ultra-transmissive virus.
Ironically, Huang said she wasn’t trying to develop an anti-Omicron antibody, but was working on another infectious disease, saw its effectiveness, and decided to try it out against Omicron, too.
Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins produced by “attack” cells in the human immune system and wander through the bloodstream until encountering a foreign body, which they mark as a target for other immune cells and then attack themselves. Different types of antibodies are produced for different types of pathogens, helping serve as a collective “memory” for the immune system that allows it to adapt as it encounters new viruses or bacteria.
The antibodies developed at Fudan attack SARS-CoV-2 in groups of up to eight, each using different techniques to increase the effectiveness of the others. For example, one action Huang described to the SCMP was that an antibody would fasten itself to the Omicron virus with one arm, then use its other to flatten the virus’ spike protein, creating additional surface area for other antibodies to latch on.
According to their paper, the “combo moves” of the antibody are effective against other versions of SARS-CoV-2, as well as SARS-CoV-1, a related disease better known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). They theorize it will be effective against future variants, too.
A key aspect of immunology is the ability to “teach” our immune system about a pathogen ahead of time using vaccines, or to give it an extra boost once we’re already infected, by using antibody treatments. Monoclonal antibody drugs like Regeneron have helped with earlier variants of COVID-19, but last week, the FDA pulled its authorization for use of Regeneron, citing its low effectiveness in treating people infected by the Omicron variant, in comparison to the considerable side-effects taking the drug can have.
However, Huang said this new antibody could put humans ahead of the virus for a change.
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