An international team of scientists from the Rosalind Franklin Institute and the University of Oxford has proven the transmission mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 from animals to humans. The results of the study are published in the journal Science.
In the course of the work, the specialists used the method of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and detailed visualization of the virus, thanks to which it was possible to create a new research method, which they called the universal saturation transfer analysis (uSTA).
Using it, scientists found that the mechanism of penetration of the COVID-19 pathogen from animals to humans is based on the attachment of the virus to sialic acids, which are located on the surface of human cells. It was this unique ability of the strain that made it possible for the first time to infect humans. Subsequent variants of the virus (delta, omicron) no longer possessed this ability: they attach to ACE2 proteins using spikes on the shell. Such a theory existed before, but it was only possible to prove it in this study.