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The “Nice Escape” by SARS-CoV-2 XBB.1

In a latest article revealed within the Lancet Microbe, researchers within the Netherlands and the UK quantified the antigenic range of recent extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) subvariants, BQ.1.1, BM.1.1.1, and XBB.1, all derivatives of the variant of concern (VOC) Omicron, which emerged in late 2022. This train may show fruitful in figuring out SARS-CoV-2 strains for the next-generation coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines.

Correspondance: Antigenic mapping of rising SARS-CoV-2 omicron variants BM.1.1.1, BQ.1.1, and XBB.1. Picture Credit score: NIAID


It’s extremely regarding that novel Omicron subvariants are rising at a unprecedented charge, regardless of vaccination and prior infection-induced immunity within the majority of the worldwide inhabitants.

Concerning the examine

Within the current examine, researchers used antigenic cartography to quantify and visualize antigenic traits of SARS-CoV-2 variants concomitantly. Researchers broadly use this multi-dimensional scaling methodology to determine antigen positions vis-à-vis antiserum samples, each corresponding on to neutralizing antibody titers.

They used a SARS-CoV-2 hamster mannequin for his or her experiments. First, they contaminated take a look at animals with Omicron BA.5 subvariant, genetically near Omicron BA.2, however various by two deletions and three substitutions within the spike (S) amino acid sequence. Subsequent, they assessed neutralizing antibody titers for all serum samples and variants, together with Omicron BA.5, BM.1.1.1, BQ.1.1, and XBB.1.

Outcomes and conclusion

The up to date antigenic map so generated depicted that each one the Omicron subvariants had been positioned farther away from the pre-Omicron subvariants, with one antigenic unit reflecting a two-fold discount in neutralization titers. Particularly, solely BA.5 and BA.2, being homologous variants, held antigenic positions inside one antigenic unit, whereas the remaining Omicron subvariants held antigenic positions 2.3 to seven antigenic models farther from one another.

Additional, the examine information revealed that Omicron BA.5 antiserum samples neutralized BA.2 and BQ.1.1 considerably however not Omicron BM.1.1.1. Strikingly, not one of the serum samples successfully neutralized Omicron XBB.1. In each two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) maps, Omicron XBB.1, BM.1.1.1, and BQ.1.1 had been the farthest from all previous variants, with no marked enchancment with the upper variety of dimensions. The researchers noticed a correlation between antigen map distances and antibody neutralization titers with outstanding accuracy in antigen and serum pattern positioning. Additionally, they famous the very best discount in neutralizing titers for BQ.1.1, XBB.1, and BM.1.1.1, adopted by Omicron BA.5 and BA.1/BA.2 in comparison with the D614G, the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 pressure.

To conclude, not one of the novel Omicron subvariants clustered shut to one another on antigenic maps. So, regardless of the antigenic resemblances between BQ.1.1 and BA.5, immunological imprinting may hinder BQ.1.1 neutralization by BA.5-based bivalent vaccines. Furthermore, a vaccine primarily based on any of the Omicron subvariants may weakly cross-neutralize yet-to-emerge SARS-CoV-2 variants, which may be equally or extra antigenically distant. Due to this fact, it’s essential to repeatedly map new SARS-CoV-2 variants and develop an understanding of their evolutionary trajectory to tell the event of COVID-19 vaccine candidates for the longer term.

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