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Molecule that helps virus evade anti-bodies

Date: 26 April 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous


A study has identified a certain natural molecule that prevents antibodies from attaching itself to SARS-CoV-2 virus.



Antibodies usually neutralise virus by attaching themselves to them and destroying their genetic material to prevent them from multiplying.



  • The discovery is a major step in understanding why certain individuals become seriously ill even if they have anti-bodies present in their bodies.

  • The natural molecules are biliverdin and bilirubin that can prevent anti-bodies from attaching to coronavirus spike protein.

  • However, the ability of the body to control the infection and handle antibody response is highly variable between individuals.

  • Researchers found out that biliverdin can prevent binding of antibodies to spike protein by as much as 30-50%.

  • This was undertaken after collecting blood sera and antibodies from individuals who were previously infected from SARS-CoV-2.

  • To understand interactions between antibodies and biliverdin, the team made use of cryo-Em and X-ray crystallography.

  • The biliverdin can attach to the spike of the virus and stabilise it. That prevents the spike from opening up and exposing its structure.

  • The SARS-CoV-2 virus infects lung and surrounding blood vessels leading to increase in immune cells.

  • Presence of immune cells gives rise to biliverdin and bilirubin in the surrounding tissues. These molecules then attach to the virus to neutralise antibodies.

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