Scientists at The University of Manchester in the UK have identified weaknesses in the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which act as targets for antibodies and can activate the immune response.
An article is published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
The study involved 20 patients with dermatomyositis, a severe autoimmune disease that affects connective and muscle tissue. Genetic and environmental factors, including viral and bacterial infections, are known to be at risk of a disease in which the immune system is also involved. Experts analyzed which antibodies are unique or are found in large numbers in those who were diagnosed with dermatomyositis.
Scientists have focused on those antibodies that target viruses belonging to the coronavirus family. It turned out that in patients with dermatomyositis there are a large number of antibodies aimed at ten epitopes (specific protein sites) in three species of bat coronaviruses. Experts compared amino acid sequences in epitopes with sequences in SARS-CoV-2 and identified three identical epitopes, including the sequence in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase responsible for the propagation of the virus.
These epitopes may be targets for an effective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. Besides, scientists have suggested that infection with coronaviruses can trigger the development of an autoimmune disease.