In this three-dimensional “image”, which looks like a map, “we can clearly see that the Omicron variant has many more mutations than the Delta variant (which already has a large number of mutations in itself), mostly concentrated in one area of the protein that interacts with human cells, “the team of researchers said in a statement Sunday. “This does not automatically mean that these variations are more dangerous, only that the virus has adapted even more to the human species by generating another variant,” the researchers specify. “Other studies will tell us if this adaptation is neutral, less dangerous or more dangerous.”
The three-dimensional structure of the peak protein.
Bambino Gesù’s research team focused in their study on the search for mutations in “the three-dimensional structure of the spike protein,” said Claudia Alteri, professor of clinical microbiology at the State University of Milan and researcher at the Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome. . interviewed by AFP. This protein, which is the “most studied” part of the virus, is “responsible for recognizing the human receptor and for the entry of the virus into cells”. “It is at the peak where monoclonal antibodies and, of course, vaccines act,” he emphasizes.
Study of the sequences of the new Omicron variant
The image was produced “from the study of the sequences of this new variant made available to the scientific community”, coming mainly “from Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong”. “This image, which represents a small map of all the variations, describes the Omicron mutations but does not define their role,” he emphasizes. “Now it will be important to define, through laboratory experiments, if the combination of these mutations can have an impact on transmission or on the efficacy of vaccines, for example,” he concludes.
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