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Frontiers in psychology ; 13, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1980784


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted the interdependency of healthcare systems and research organizations on manufacturers and suppliers of personnel protective equipment (PPE) and the need for well-trained personnel who can react quickly to changing working conditions. Reports on challenges faced by research laboratory workers (RLWs) are rare in contrast to the lived experience of hospital health care workers. We report on experiences gained by RLWs (e.g., molecular scientists, pathologists, autopsy assistants) who significantly contributed to combating the pandemic under particularly challenging conditions due to increased workload, sickness and interrupted PPE supply chains. RLWs perform a broad spectrum of work with SARS-CoV-2 such as autopsies, establishment of virus cultures and infection models, development and verification of diagnostics, performance of virus inactivation assays to investigate various antiviral agents including vaccines and evaluation of decontamination technologies in high containment biological laboratories (HCBL). Performance of autopsies and laboratory work increased substantially during the pandemic and thus led to highly demanding working conditions with working shifts of more than eight hours working in PPE that stressed individual limits and also the ergonomic and safety limits of PPE. We provide detailed insights into the challenges of the stressful daily laboratory routine since the pandemic began, lessons learned, and suggest solutions for better safety based on a case study of a newly established HCBL (i.e., BSL-3 laboratory) designed for autopsies and research laboratory work. Reduced personal risk, increased resilience, and stress resistance can be achieved by improved PPE components, better training, redundant safety measures, inculcating a culture of safety, and excellent teamwork

Biomedicines ; 10(1)2021 Dec 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1581028


As with many other pathogens, SARS-CoV-2 cell infection is strongly dependent on the interaction of the virus-surface Spike protein with the glycosaminoglycans of target cells. The SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein was previously shown to interact with cell-surface-exposed heparan sulfate and heparin in vitro. With the aim of using Enoxaparin as a treatment for COVID-19 patients and as prophylaxis to prevent interpersonal viral transmission, we investigated GAG binding to the Spike full-length protein, as well as to its receptor binding domain (RBD) in solution by isothermal fluorescence titration. We found that Enoxaparin bound to both protein variants with similar affinities, compared to the natural GAG ligand heparan sulfate (with Kd-values in the range of 600-680 nM). Using size-defined Enoxaparin fragments, we discovered the optimum binding for dp6 or dp8 for the full-length Spike protein, whereas the RBD did not exhibit a significant chain-length-dependent affinity for heparin oligosaccharides. The soluble ACE2 receptor was found to interact with unfractionated GAGs in the low µM Kd range, but with size-defined heparins with clearly sub-µM Kd-values. Interestingly, the structural heparin analogue, pentosan polysulfate (PPS), exhibited high binding affinities to both Spike variants as well as to the ACE2 receptor. In viral infection experiments, Enoxaparin and PPS both showed a strong inhibition of infection in a concentration range of 50-500 µg/mL. Both compounds were found to retain their inhibitory effects at 500 µg/mL in a natural biomatrix-like human sputum. Our data suggest the early topical treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infections with inhaled Enoxaparin; some clinical studies in this direction are already ongoing, and they further imply an oral or nasal prophylactic inactivation of the virus by Enoxaparin or PPS for the prevention of inter-personal viral transmission.

FASEB J ; 35(11): e21970, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1462503


Single domain shark variable domain of new antigen receptor (VNAR) antibodies can offer a viable alternative to conventional Ig-based monoclonal antibodies in treating COVID-19 disease during the current pandemic. Here we report the identification of neutralizing single domain VNAR antibodies selected against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 spike protein derived from the Wuhan variant using phage display. We identified 56 unique binding clones that exhibited high affinity and specificity to the spike protein. Of those, 10 showed an ability to block both the spike protein receptor binding domain from the Wuhan variant and the N501Y mutant from interacting with recombinant angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor in vitro. In addition, three antibody clones retained in vitro blocking activity when the E484K spike protein mutant was used. The inhibitory property of the VNAR antibodies was further confirmed for all 10 antibody clones using ACE2 expressing cells with spike protein from the Wuhan variant. The viral neutralizing potential of the VNAR clones was also confirmed for the 10 antibodies tested using live Wuhan variant virus in in vitro cell infectivity assays. Single domain VNAR antibodies, due to their low complexity, small size, unique epitope recognition, and formatting flexibility, should be a useful adjunct to existing antibody approaches to treat COVID-19.

Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Single-Domain Antibodies/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Animals , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Protein Binding , Sharks/immunology , Vero Cells