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biorxiv; 2023.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2023.01.17.523798


Currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants acquired convergent mutations at receptor-binding domain (RBD) hot spots. Their impact on viral infection, transmission, and efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics remains poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that recently emerged BQ.1.1. and XBB.1 variants bind ACE2 with high affinity and promote membrane fusion more efficiently than earlier Omicron variants. Structures of the BQ.1.1 and XBB.1 RBDs bound to human ACE2 and S309 Fab (sotrovimab parent) explain the altered ACE2 recognition and preserved antibody binding through conformational selection. We show that sotrovimab binds avidly to all Omicron variants, promotes Fc-dependent effector functions and protects mice challenged with BQ.1.1, the variant displaying the greatest loss of neutralization. Moreover, in several donors vaccine-elicited plasma antibodies cross-react with and trigger effector functions against Omicron variants despite reduced neutralizing activity. Cross-reactive RBD-directed human memory B cells remained dominant even after two exposures to Omicron spikes, underscoring persistent immune imprinting. Our findings suggest that this previously overlooked class of cross-reactive antibodies, exemplified by S309, may contribute to protection against disease caused by emerging variants through elicitation of effector functions.

biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.11.25.399055


Background: An immediate unmet medical need exists to test and develop existing approved drugs against SARS-COV-2. Despite many efforts, very little progress has been made regarding finding low-cost oral medicines that can be made widely available worldwide to address the global pandemic. Methods: We sought to examine if a triple combination of nitazoxanide (using its active metabolite tizoxanide), ribavirin, and hydroxychloroquine would lead to a multiplicative effects on viral replication of SARS-COV-2 resulting in a significant reduction of virus yield using VERO E6 cells as a model of viral replication. Results: Virus yield measured in PFU/ml was ~ 2 logs lower with triple combination versus either drug alone, resulting in the prolongation of time to peak cytopathic effects (CPE). The time to produce 50% CPE increased from 2.8 days for viral controls versus 5.3 days for triple combination therapy. Finally, for each 1-log reduction in virus yield 24 hours post-infection, there was an additional 0.7-day delay in onset of CPE. Conclusions: A triple combination of tizoxanide, ribavirin, and hydroxychloroquine produced a reduction in SARS-COV-2 viral replication in Vero E6 cells, warranting exploration in additional cell lines as well as human clinical trials.