Key targets for vaccine development

The novel coronavirus, a key protein molecule, is constructed by the US team for the first time. This protein is a key target for developing vaccines, therapeutic antibodies and drugs. 3D
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the National Institutes of health of the United States, based on the genome sequence of the virus provided by Chinese researchers, reconstructed the 3D structure of the spike protein on the surface of the new coronavirus at the atomic scale with a resolution of 0.35nm by using a frozen electron microscope.
It was found that the spike protein structure of the new coronavirus was very similar to that of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, and “ACE2” on the cell surface was used as the key receptor to invade the cells.
However, the affinity between ac2 and ac2 of new coronavirus is 10 to 20 times higher than that of SARS virus, which may be related to the fact that new coronavirus is easier to spread among people.
Jason McClellan, an associate professor in the Department of molecular biology at the University of Texas at Austin, the corresponding author of the paper, said it was not clear why the two were more closely linked at the molecular level, and whether this affinity had an impact on the transmissibility of the virus needs further research and confirmation.
McClellan told Xinhua that they have sent the atomic coordinate data of the structure to a number of laboratories around the world, most of which are from China, and about 25 Chinese laboratories have asked for relevant information.
McClellan said the results could help researchers work in three areas.
First, potential drug screening was carried out to find small molecules that could bind to the spike protein and destroy its function
Second, design new protein molecules or antibodies that can bind to spike protein and inhibit its function
Third, we designed a variant of this spike protein, for example, to make it have a higher expression level or thermal stability, so as to induce a stronger immune response, so as to speed up the development of vaccine.
McClellan’s team has screened several monoclonal antibodies that bind to the spike protein of SARS virus and found that they do not bind to the new coronavirus.
McClellan explained that although the surface similarity of the spike protein of the new coronavirus and SARS virus is about 75%, if there is a large amount of amino acid difference in the region where the antibody binds, the antibody that can bind to SARS virus is difficult to bind to the new coronavirus.