IIT Madras researchers develop database on coronavirus antibodies

Ab-CoV database includes 1,780 coronavirus-related antibodies including 211 nanobodies

Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) researchers have developed an online open-source database of coronaviruses’ neutralising antibodies encompassing crucial features such as binding affinity and neutralisation profiles (IC50 and EC50) of antibodies.

The database called ‘Ab-CoV’ contains detailed information about all COVID-related antibodies identified so far, including the source of each antibody, and the viral protein(s) and virus strains they recognise. ‘Ab-CoV’ can also aid in the development of drugs against new variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Ab-CoV database includes 1,780 coronavirus-related antibodies including 211 nanobodies and contains more than 3,200 data points on half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50), half maximal effective concentration (EC50) & binding affinity (KD).

This work has been published in the reputed peer-reviewed journal Bioinformatics. The authors of this paper include 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.

Stressing the uniqueness of Ab-CoV, Prof M Michael Gromiha, Faculty, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, said, “Some of the data in the Ab-CoV database has already been used to understand the relationship between structural features and binding affinities of spike protein-antibody complexes as well as antibody repurposing.”

Further, Gromiha said, “Ab-CoV also has a wide range of search and display options through which users can directly search and download the processed data, based on the antibody’s name, viral protein epitope, neutralized viral strain, antibody, and nanobody. It also has the option to view structures of antibodies or viral proteins in a 3D model.”

The information compiled in this database assists researchers in:
Ø Antibody engineering
Ø Analysing immune escape for known and future variants of SARS-CoV-2
Ø Computational studies on neutralising antibodies, and
Ø Relating structural features with binding affinity.

Dr Vani Janakiraman, Faculty, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, said, “AbCoV is an exhaustive repository of antibodies, not just specific to SARS CoV-2 but also other members of the coronavirus family such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) viruses. This repository would aid in comparative studies among different neutralising antibodies across coronaviruses and assess their properties and interaction patterns with epitopes on the native and mutant viral proteins. Such an effort eventually would help to gauge the efficacy of these antibodies towards existing and emerging viral variants.”

Although large amounts of experimental and computational data have been stored online to understand the virus, the emergence of new variants prompted researchers to gather new and comprehensive information. Such efforts will help to develop newer drugs and deal better with disasters that affect human health and economies, globally.

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