Dr Cathrine Scheepers receives a NHLS Research Trust Award

9 November 2021

Dr Cathrine Scheepers from the NICD recently received a 3-year research grant from the NHLS Research Trust entitled: “Sequence characteristics of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 Beta variant”. 

Many antibodies that target the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 use specific germline genes (such as IGHV3-53 and IGHV3-66) which encode a crucial SXXS motif. However, variants of concern (VOC), such as Beta and Delta, which dominated South Africa’s second and third waves, have evolved to escape such antibody responses.

Furthermore, previous work from the NICD group has shown that Beta triggers more cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies (Moyo-Gwete et al, NEJM, 2021). This raises the question of whether VOCs trigger distinct antibody responses. This grant, therefore, seeks to understand the sequence characteristics of antibodies specific to the Beta and Delta variants and to characterise monoclonal antibodies to these VOCS, for potential future use as therapeutics

Dr Cathrine Scheepers