NEW YORK

A Turkish scientist and his team have made significant progress on a new treatment that is proving effective against all variants of the coronavirus.

Dr. Derya Unutmaz, a principal investigator at the Connecticut-based Jackson Laboratory, said his team set out with the question: How to develop an immune system that can be effective against all variants.

He said they used the technology of synthetic biology to improve the treatment.

Unutmaz and his team had successful results in laboratory work in programming cells, which is the synthetic biology part, and the next step will be testing animals, he said.

He noted that they adopted the method used in cancer treatment for cells infected by the coronavirus.

Unutmaz said COVID-19 variants can escape antibodies developed by the body, therefore, even people who are vaccinated might contract the virus, citing the omicron variant.

“There are protrusions that we call spike protein on the surface of the virus, these are the keys of the virus. Using these, the virus attaches to the lock on the surface of the cell and opens and enters it. After that, it produces its own proteins, copies and spreads it to other cells,” he said.

“The method we developed is actually to trap the virus,” he said. “We took the lock on the surface of the cell and turned it into a molecule with synthetic biology.”

Noting that no COVID-19 variant could escape the method his team developed, he said as the virus develops, it binds to the synthetic lock even better so the treatment his team advanced will be an effective method against variants that may arise in the future.

He said his team has received very positive feedback. “We are very happy to be able to develop such a method within this process”

Unutmaz underlined that the study is being contributed to by two immunologists, with one based in Turkiye, adding that biotechnology is developing in Turkiye and they might be able to do some of the work there in the future.

“We have gone through a very difficult process, it has been almost two years, we are all very tired, but people should not despair,” he said about the future trajectory of COVID-19.

“I think a significant part of the pandemic will end with omicron,” he said.

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