Immunology researchers isolate antibodies to treat and diagnose COVID-19

Haley Dugan

Immunology student Haley Dugan is part of the Wilson lab team researching COVID-19 to protect against future threats

University of Chicago researchers have isolated SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies, which have the potential to both treat and diagnose COVID-19. Led by Patrick Wilson, Immunology, and working with Dr. Yoshi Kawaoka (the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Tokyo), the team isolated antibodies specific to the spike and internal proteins of SARS-CoV-2 from a unique cohort of COVID-19 patients. The patented product is a panel of more than 100 antibodies that bind various SARS-CoV-2 proteins. “When the first few COVID-19 cases emerged, not everyone realized how big of a global health problem it could have been, but Patrick foresaw it becoming a major threat very early on and was interested in isolating antibodies,” said Haley Dugan, a PhD student in the Wilson Lab.

Graduate student Chris Stamper also worked on the project. “It was many long days,” added Stamper, noting that his previous research using mice and on past flu vaccine trials gave him the tools to rapidly switch gears and take a translational approach. “Basic science is the foundation of all translational science,” said Stamper.

Collating what they have learned to date, Wilson, Dugan, and Stamper recently submitted a manuscript with their findings. The focus is on the evolution of the memory B cell response to COVID, specifically, their novel discovery that the B cell response shows substantial evolution toward not only the spike glycoprotein, but the internal antigens as well. “There are still very important questions that remain, and we don’t fully understand the interplay between antibody responses and disease severity or age,” added Dugan. “There’s a lot more to be discovered, especially with respect to the newly-emerging variants.”

Continue reading the full article by Melissa Fassbender at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation 

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