Posted: 02.12.2022 17:44:00

Universal antibodies against coronaviruses detected in cats’ blood

Biologists have found out that the feline body, when infected with coronavirus, produces antibodies that can neutralise not only this pathogen, but also human SARS-CoV-2, and this discovery will accelerate development of universal vaccines against COVID-19, scientists claim in an article of the bioRxiv online library


The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus – which is the causative agent of COVID-19 – can penetrated the body of not only humans, but also other mammals, such as rhesus monkeys, minks, ferrets and cats. The infection affects these animals almost as much as it affects people.

A group of American molecular biologists led by Janet Yamamoto, a professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, got interested in how infection with the feline coronavirus FCoV2, which often affects cats in the wild and in urban environments, influences their predisposition to the development of coronavirus infection.

The researchers' interest in the FCoV2 virus was related to the structure of its RBD block, a key fragment of the protein envelope of this pathogen. It is 40 percent the same as how a similar part of the human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is formed, despite the different ways of their penetration into cells. In theory, this similarity can be used to create a universal vaccine against coronaviruses.

The experiment showed that FCoV2 antibodies were actively connected not only with the RBD block and other envelope proteins of this pathogen, but also with similar segments that are present in the particles of the human COVID-19 pathogen and FCoV1 virus. As noted by the researchers, this suggests that such antibodies and the regions with which they bind can become the basis for the development of vaccines that suppress a large number of coronaviruses.

In their opinion, the results of the experiments not only potentially explain why many COVID-19 infected cats have no visible symptoms. They also point to the possibility of creating a universal coronavirus vaccine that can protect the body from pathogens. The subsequent study of the structure of the antibodies of cats and new experiments on animals will help scientists solve this problem.

As reported by TASS, the bioRxiv online article is a preprint, so it has not been reviewed by independent experts and editors of scientific journals. Therefore, all its conclusions should be treated with caution.