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MU researchers identify highly prevalent mutations specific to Omicron variants

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While Omicron variants continue to infect people around the world, researchers at the University of Missouri have identified specific, highly prevalent mutations that are causing high infection rates for Omicron variants.

The findings help explain how new variants can escape existing antibodies present in the human body naturally from vaccination or from recent COVID-19 infections.

We know that the virus evolves over time and acquires mutations, so when we first heard about the new Omicron variant, we wanted to identify mutations specific to this variant. “

Kamlendra Singh, Professor of MU Veterinary Medicine, Assistant Director of MU Molecular Interaction Core and Bond Life Science Center Researcher

Singh worked with Saathvik Kannan, a freshman at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri, Austin Spratt, an undergraduate student at MU, and Sid Byrareddy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center to analyze protein sequences in Omicron samples worldwide. Includes Southern Africa, Botswana and the United States. The team identified 46 very common mutations specific to Omicron, including some in the area of ​​the virus’s peplomer, where the antibody binds to the virus to prevent infection.

“The purpose of the antibody is to recognize the virus, stop it from binding, and prevent infection,” says Shin. “But many of the mutations in the Omicron variant have been found to be where the antibody should bind, so how the virus continues to evolve in ways that may avoid or avoid existing antibodies. It shows that it continues to infect so many people. “

As antiviral treatments for individuals infected with COVID-19 continue to be developed, Shin has a better understanding of how the virus is evolving, and future antiviral treatments will identify the virus. He explained that it was directed to the part and helped to produce the most effective results.

On a recent trip to his native India, Shin met with Delhi’s Deputy Prime Minister, Manish Sisodia, to discuss the launch of CoroQuil-Zn, a supplement that can be taken when infected with COVID-19. Viral load.. The supplement developed by Singh is currently being used by patients in Tamil Nadu, India. Manufacturers will soon seek FDA approval for distribution in the United States.

“The first step in solving a problem is to better understand a particular problem in the first place,” Shin said. “I’m happy to contribute to a study that is helping a pandemic situation that is clearly affecting people around the world.”

Source:

Journal reference:

Kannan, SR, et al. (2021) Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant: unique function and effect on existing antibodies. Autoimmunity journal. doi.org/10.1016/j.jaut.2021.102779..

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