Lab-developed Protein Spikes Consistent With Covid Virus
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The key properties of the spikes of SARS-CoV-2, are consistent with those of several laboratory-developed protein spikes, designed to mimic the infectious virus, a new international study has found. The manufacture of protein spikes is a central component in designing serological tests and vaccines to protect against Covid-19. These recombinant spikes closely mimic those sticking out of the surface of the infectious virus and trigger the body's immune system into action.

Laboratory manufactured spikes are also used for serological testing and as research reagents. The new study, showed that viral spikes manufactured through different methods in laboratories across the globe are highly similar and provide reassurance that the spike can be robustly manufactured with minimal variations between laboratories.

The spikes on the SARS-CoV-2 virus are coated in sugars, known as glycans, which they use to disguise themselves from the human immune system. The abundance of these glycans has the potential to create significant discrepancies between studies that use different recombinant spikes. The team examined the glycan coatings on recombinant spikes developed in five laboratories around the world and compared them to those on the spikes of the infectious virus.

In April 2020, the team had mapped the glycan coating of the SARS-CoV-2 spike for the first time. In the present study, they extended their analysis to examine recombinant spikes developed in laboratories. All the different batches of spike protein were shown to mimic key features of the glycosylation of inactivated virions analysed at Tsinghua University, China.

"The ability to produce mimics of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein with high fidelity at many different laboratories, all of which recapitulate the glycan signatures of the authentic virus, is of significant benefit for vaccine design, antibody testing and drug discovery," the researcher said.

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