An antibody therapy that appears to neutralize all known SARS-CoV-2 strains, and other coronaviruses, was developed with a little help from structural biologist Jay Nix.
An imaging technique pioneered by Berkeley Lab is helping reveal the best antibodies to test for in rapid and reliable COVID-19 detection. Although current tests such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are highly accurate, these samples must be sent to an accredited lab for testing, causing a longer wait time for results. Michal Hammel, a research scientist in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, and Curtis D. Hodge led a study that could help get reliable, self-administered tests with instant results on the market.
Scientists at the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology contributed resources and data to a recently-published study revealing a new site on the coronavirus spike protein used by antibodies to block the invasion of the virus into healthy cells. The discovery of this new antibody binding site will help scientists as they work to continue improving treatment and vaccine formulations for COVID-19 and its variants.
A team led by Paul Adams, director of Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, developed the Phenix software suite, now used around the world to automate key steps in the structural biology workflow. Adams spoke with the Strategic Communications about the software’s origins and how structural biologists leapt into action to combat the pandemic.
In the early days of the pandemic, amidst all the uncertainty, one thing was for sure: N95 masks – the personal protective respiratory devices that filter out viruses, bacteria, and wildfire smoke – were in short supply. So when materials scientists Jeff Urban and Peter Hosemann heard that a local HMO needed advice on N95 alternatives, they immediately knew what to do: Make a better mask.
Urban and Hosemann were responding to a Berkeley Lab-wide call for research ideas in support of fighting COVID-19, which ultimately led to their receiving DOE support through the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL), a consortium of DOE National laboratories with core capabilities relevant to the threats posed by COVID-19, and funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.