A new study from MIT suggests that the dozens of mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron variant help it to evade all four of the classes of antibodies that can target the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.
This includes antibodies generated by vaccinated or previously infected people, as well as most of the monoclonal antibody treatments that have been developed, says Ram Sasisekharan, the Alfred H. Caspary Professor of Biological Engineering and Health Sciences and Technology (HST) at MIT.
Using a computational approach that allowed them to determine how mutated amino acids of the viral spike protein influence nearby amino acids, the researchers were able to get a multidimensional view of how the virus evades antibodies. According to Sasisekharan, the traditional approach of only examining changes in the virus’ genetic sequence reduces the complexity of the spike protein’s three-dimensional surface and doesn’t describe the multidimensional complexity of the protein surfaces that antibodies are attempting to bind to… Continue reading.
Yellow fever, a hemorrhagic disease that is common in South America and sub-Saharan Africa, infects about 200,000 people per year and causes an estimated 30,000 deaths. While there is a vaccine for yellow fever, it can’t be given to some people because of the risk of side effects, and there are no approved treatments for the disease.
An international team of researchers, led by MIT Professor Ram Sasisekharan, has now developed a potential treatment for yellow fever. Their drug, an engineered monoclonal antibody that targets the virus, has shown success in early-stage clinical trials in Singapore.
This class of antibodies holds promise for treating a variety of infectious diseases, but it usually takes several years to develop and test them. The MIT-led researchers demonstrated that they could design, produce, and begin clinical trials of their antibody drug within seven months… Continue reading.
In 2015, Ram Sasisekharan, PhD, the Alfred H. Caspary professor of biological engineering and health sciences & technology at MIT, founded Tychan. The company concentrates on one key goal: decreasing the time from antibody idea to investigational new drug (IND) approval. Now, the company claims it can cut the average time in half and more.
“With traditional technology, it usually takes about 18 months to get an antibody into human trials, from discovery to development,” Sasisekharan said. “For the Zika and Yellow Fever viruses, we developed new antibodies that went into human trials in less than nine months.” This new speed arises from a combination of informatics and bioprocessing… Continue reading.