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Phoenix researchers examine how common cold antibodies fight COVID

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix are studying how common cold antibodies might be able to ward off COVID-19, potentially boosting immunity to the new disease.

“The potential for them to be bad is if, somehow, the response is distracting, and instead of being tuned to the new virus, it’s hung up on the common cold coronavirus,” TGen researcher John Altin said.

Altin and his team are studying six coronavirus relatives, including two deadly ones that ran through the Middle East and Asia in 2003 and 2012.

He’s hopeful the antibodies will be the “Achilles Heel” for COVID-19 and more.

“If there’s another future coronavirus outbreak, or if this virus mutates in some way, these conserved regions could be really important in forming a broadly protective response,” Altin said.

Altin’s lab is isolating the antibodies to learn how they’ll work.

“We made this discovery by profiling the antibody response to the Coronavirus,” he explained. “Instead of looking at the whole virus, we chopped up the virus into tiny little pieces and profiled the antibody response against each of those fragments.”

TGen is developing a blood test to determine which common cold antibodies we already have. If they work, Altin sees great possibilities for COVID-19 treatments, like monoclonal antibody injections and convalescent plasma treatments.

“When you take plasma and give it to someone who’s sick, you really don’t know what’s in there,” Altin said. “Profiling these antibody responses in some detail will disentangle what’s actually protective.”

These treatments could fight coronavirus mutations, too, but the research continues.

TGen’s COVID Immunity Study is collecting small blood samples from anyone who wishes to give them.

The antibody study is open to anyone 18 and older who has had COVID-19 and recovered, which means they have built up antibodies in their immune system.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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