UBC scientists unveil world’s first molecular-level analysis of Omicron variant spike protein

Research Excellence | Strategy 10: Research Culture
Theme: Innovation
The atomic structure of the Omicron variant spike protein (purple) bound with the human ACE2 receptor (blue) | Photo credit: Dr. Sriram Subramaniam

UBC researchers are the first in the world to conduct a molecular-level structural analysis of the Omicron variant spike protein, and findings show strong antibody evasion and binding with human cells that contribute to increased transmissibility—and that vaccination remains the best defense.

The analysis—done at near atomic resolution using a cryo-electron microscope—reveals how the heavily mutated variant infects human cells and is highly evasive of immunity. The findings shed new light on why Omicron is highly transmissible and will help accelerate the development of more effective treatments.

UBC News hosted an interview with Dr. Sriram Subramaniam, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Faculty of Medicine), in which Dr. Subramaniam discusses the implications of his team’s research. Please visit the UBC News site to lean how the findings in Subramaniam’s study will help us to better adapt to the evolving pandemic.

Through Strategy 10: Research Culture, UBC is committed to fostering the principles and practices that define a collaborative and inclusive research culture and that support mentorship, scholarship, discovery and creativity.