Earth.com recently posted an article (12/09/23) about a study published in the journal Immunity. The study examined how the immune system responds to SARS-CoV-2 variants. It found the process of “affinity maturation”, where antibodies mature over time via mutations, enhances detection and neutralization of pathogens.
Infection with Omicron triggered a renewed response in vaccinated people, mostly by reactivating memory B cells. The antibodies produced had matured before Omicron emerged, suggesting preemptive preparation.
The first goal was investigating how antibody response changes after a third vaccination. Surprisingly, there was minimal further maturation of individual antibodies after the third dose.
Further analysis revealed memory B cells capable of neutralizing Omicron had proliferated before contact with Omicron. Also, some broad neutralizing antibodies from early in the pandemic were effective against new variants.
Molecular analysis showed some antibody modifications during maturation are random. These random changes were crucial for neutralizing Omicron variants. This suggests the immune system randomly mutates antibodies to increase chances of having suitable ones when new variants appear.
Overall, the studies reveal how the immune system proactively adapts to react to new viral variants. The findings have implications for developing therapeutic antibodies and preventing infection from newer Omicron variants.
You can read the full article here.