Structural changes to the COVID-19 virus highlight the need to expand the research efforts.
Five specific mutations are more prevalent in the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 compared to the Delta variant, according to the results of a new study published in the Journal of Autoimmunity.
“Whether it is natural antibodies produced from previously having COVID-19 or the antibodies produced from the vaccine, we are showing structurally how dangerous and clever the virus is by being able to mutate in a way that the antibodies don’t seem to recognize and defend against these new variants,” Austin Spratt, an undergraduate student at University of Missouri (MU), said in a press release.
Investigators found that in addition to 5 mutations, K417N is present in the Delta Plus infection, but not nearly in any other Delta infections. This shows structural changes to the COVID-19 virus and highlight the need to expand research efforts into combatting the virus, according to the study.
“These findings help explain why there have been so many people testing positive for the Delta variants despite being vaccinated or having previously been infected with COVID-19,” Spratt said in the release.
Investigators also said that developing antiviral drugs to target specific areas of the virus that remain unchanged by mutations would be beneficial in the fight against viruses that mutate, not just COVID-19.
“There has not yet been a vaccine for HIV due to the unpredictable variability that often comes with viruses that mutate frequently,” Kamlendra Singh, a professor at the MU college of Veterinary Medicine and Bond Life Sciences Center, said in the release. “If we can develop small molecule drugs that target the part of the virus that does not mutate, that will be the ultimate solution for combatting the virus.”
MU researchers identify mutations of Delta, Delta Plus variants. University of Missouri. News release. September 28, 2021. Accessed on October 5, 2021. https://showme.missouri.edu/2021/mu-researchers-identify-mutations-of-delta-delta-plus-variants/