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UCSF QBI, University College London, and Mount Sinai Identify Shared Molecular Mechanisms Across SARS-CoV-2 Variants that Allow Virus to Thrive Despite Vaccination

–  Findings show viral proteins outside of Spike across Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variants are responsible for innate immune suppression and escape from human immune system barriers

– Elucidation of common evolutionary thread provides key biologic target against future COVID-19 variants and other pandemics

Excerpt from the Press Release:

SAN FRANCISCO and LONDON, Sept. 21, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In a study published online in CELL today, scientists at UCSF QBI, University College London and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai reported breakthrough findings on convergent evolutionary mechanisms shared by COVID-19 variants, allowing them to overcome both adaptive and innate immune system barriers. In the paper titled, SARS-CoV-2 Variants Evolve Convergent Strategies to Remodel the Host Response, scientists carried out an unprecedented, systematic comparative study using the most infectious COVID-19 variants, namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron to identify specific viral mutations responsible for hijacking a common host pathway, thereby leading to increased transmissibility, infectivity and survival. Specifically, they discovered a convergence in potent suppression of interferon-stimulated genes through several viral proteins, including Orf6 and Orf9b, which serve as innate immune antagonist proteins capable of blocking innate host immune response.

The study, led by the laboratories of Nevan Krogan, Ph.D., Director of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI) at the School of Pharmacy at UC San Francisco, Senior Investigator at Gladstone Institutes, was a collaborative effort that involved 16 institutions in six countries, including University College London (UCL) in London, England (Greg Towers and Clare Jolly) and Icahn Mount Sinai (Adolfo Garcia-Sastre and Lisa Miorin) among others.  

Separately yesterday, Dr. Krogan received special recognition as the recipient of the first-ever “Discovery | Innovation | Health Prize” from Research!America for his “trailblazing efforts to address future pandemic threats” and acknowledgement of his approach to building global collaborations in advance of future health threats as a preemptive strategy to protect human life, health, and opportunity. The award, which included a $200,000 prize, is intended to provide support for his vision for progress against pandemic threats.

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