New Delhi: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras have created an online open-source database of coronavirus-neutralising antibodies that includes critical features such as binding affinity and neutralisation profiles of antibodies.
The ‘Ab-CoV’ database is an ‘exhaustive repository of antibodies’, which contains detailed information about all COVID-related antibodies known so far, including the source of each antibody as well as the viral protein(s) and virus strains it recognises. The database can further help in the development of drugs against new SARS-CoV-2 variants, as well.
The database contains over 3,200 data points for 1,780 coronavirus-related antibodies, including 211 nanobodies. The study was done by researchers Dr Puneet Rawat, Divya Sharma, Dr R. Prabakaran, Fathima Ridha, Mugdha Mohkhedkar, Dr Vani Janakiraman, and Prof. M. Michael Gromiha from the Department of Biotechnology, Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, IIT Madras and was published in the journal Bioinformatics.
How will the database help?
This database’s information can help researchers with the engineering of antibodies, analysing immune escape in known and future SARS-CoV-2 variants, neutralising antibody computational studies, and understanding the relationship between structural features and binding affinity of antibodies.
The database is not just specific to SARS CoV-2 but also to other members of the coronavirus family such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) viruses.
It would also help with “comparative studies of different neutralising antibodies across coronaviruses, as well as assessing their properties and patterns of interaction with epitopes on native and mutant viral proteins. Such an effort would eventually aid in determining the efficacy of these antibodies against existing and emerging viral variants”, Dr. Vani Jankiraman, one of the researchers noted.
Every antibody listed in the database has manually curated experimental interaction pro-files with information about all possible point mutations of interface residues that are predicted to change the stability and affinity of all experimentally known three-dimensional structures. It also has the ability to visualise structure as well as search, display, and download data with antibody-specific searches, as well.
One of its kind database
The Ab-CoV database is the only one that collects experimental affinity and data on neutralisation for coronavirus-related antibodies. It is written in Python and uses the Django framework to dynamically generate HTML pages.
The datasets are stored in MySQL. The Ab-CoV database will be a valuable resource for coronavirus research, by helping in antibody engineering, analysis of immune escape for known and future variants of SARS-CoV-2 and clinical trial, with the possibility of repurposing.
Despite experimental and computational data being already present on the virus, the emergence of new variants has prompted researchers to collect new and comprehensive data to aid in the development of new drugs as well as the better management of disasters that affect human health and economies all over the world.
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