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High Potency Neutralizing Antibodies Protect Against Severe COVID-19

In This Article

  • Understanding the body's immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is key to developing effective treatments and vaccines
  • A new study suggests that the potency of neutralizing antibodies in COVID-19 patients is reduced in those with severe or fatal disease compared to patients with milder infections

In a recent study published in Cell, scientists from the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT and Harvard found that the potency of neutralizing antibodies developed in COVID-19 patients was significantly reduced in those with severe or fatal disease compared to patients with milder infections.

Researchers used an automated assay to measure the potency of neutralizing antibodies in 113 COVID-19 patient samples. They compared milder cases to severe and fatal ones to understand the nuances of the antibody response.

Their findings show that patients with severe or fatal COVID-19 had significantly less effective neutralizing antibodies than patients with milder cases and that measuring the potency of these neutralizing antibodies could predict patient outcomes.

Investigator Alejandro Balazs, PhD, of the Ragon Institute, said that these measurements might enable clinicians to identify patients at risk of severe COVID-19 and use that to guide treatment.

Furthermore, the group found that neutralizing antibodies were also effective against D614G, a recently identified SARS-CoV-2 mutation. However, when modified to examine potency against a similar, pre-emergent coronavirus identified in bats, they found the antibody responses were largely ineffective, suggesting that this coronavirus strain may pose a threat if it ever crosses into humans.

Evan Lam, BS, a research technician at the Ragon Insitute, said that although the ability to protect against mutated forms of the virus is promising, further research is necessary to develop vaccines capable of providing a broadly protective response.

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Learn more about the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT and Harvard

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