June 7, 2021

How the ‘Alpha’ Coronavirus Variant Became So Powerful

By Carl Zimmer

874 words

A new study suggests how the variant first identified in Britain hides from the human immune system. Its stealth may be part of its success.

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Refreshed on June 22, 2021 at 10:51:14 am

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June 22, 2021 at 10:51 am CHANGED
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  Both Beta and Delta drive down interferon in infected cells. But there’s no sign that they do so by flooding the cells with Orf9b proteins. They may have independently evolved their own tricks for manipulating our immune system.
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  “They’re all turning down the immune response in different ways,” Dr. Krogan said.
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- Cecile King, an immunologist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, who was not involved in the study, said that understanding how the virus was evolving these escapes would help scientists design better vaccines for Covid-19.
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+ Cecile King, an immunologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, who was not involved in the study, said that understanding how the virus was evolving these escapes would help scientists design better vaccines for Covid-19.
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  The current crop of vaccines direct the immune system to recognize spike proteins. But studies on people who recover naturally from Covid-19 have shown that their immune systems learn to recognize other viral proteins, including Orf9b.
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  A number of researchers are putting together combinations of coronavirus proteins into new vaccines. But they need to take caution, because some of the proteins may actually dampen immunity.

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  • How the ‘Alpha’ Coronavirus Variant Became So Powerful

Tags

  • Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
  • Genetics and Heredity
  • Immune System
  • Interferon (Protein)
  • Research
  • Vaccination and Immunization