A MERS-coronavirus variant that is partially resistant against neutralizing antibodies
What is it about?
The Middle East Respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) can cause a severe and frequently fatal disease in infected humans. It is transmitted from camels to humans but human-to-human transmission is at present inefficient. However, there are concerns that the virus might acquire mutations that allow for efficient spread among humans which may results in a MERS pandemic. During a MERS outbreak in Korea a MERS-CoV variant emerged and was transmitted between patients that harbored mutations in the viral spike protein – the protein that mediates viral entry into target cells. Our study shows that these mutations might be compatible with robust viral spread in cells expressing high amounts of receptor and partially protect the virus from recognition by neutralizing antibodies.
Why is it important?
Our study indicates that MERS-CoV can evade control by the antibody response. Therefore, strategies that rely on treating MERS with a single antibody might not work efficiently.
The following have contributed to this page: Professor Stefan Pöhlmann
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