COVID-19: Researchers Explore Possibility of Using Llamas-Derived Antibodies to Fight COVID Variants

COVID-19: Researchers Explore Possibility of Using Llamas-Derived Antibodies to Fight COVID Variants

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Miniature antibodies called nanobodies derived from llamas have shown therapeutic potential in the fight against COVID and its variants, according to a study.

Amid the growing threat of Omicron, the potentially more dangerous new variant of SARS-CoV-2, scientists are stepping up the search for COVID treatments.

Rockefeller scientists Michael P. Rout and Brian T. Chait and their colleagues at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute selected a repertoire of more than a hundred nanobodies based on their potency and ability to target different parts of the protein. SARS-CoV-2 tip.

Produced by immune llamas, nanobodies have been shown to neutralize the original coronavirus and several of its variants, including Delta, showing high efficacy in laboratory tests.

Studies to assess their potency against the new Omicron variant are ongoing. The researchers hope that a combination of nanobodies could be developed into a COVID drug effective against current and future variants.

“Based on how our nanobodies bind to the virus, we hope that many will remain effective, perhaps even against Omicron,” Rout said.

“We should have these results soon. ”

The results are published in the journal eLife.

A human antibody is a chunky formation of two protein chains. But the corresponding nanobody molecule produced by llamas, camels, and other species in the camelid family consists of a single protein.

To obtain the nanobodies, the researchers took blood samples from llamas that had been given small doses of coronavirus proteins, a process similar to a vaccination. They then sequenced the DNA corresponding to various nanobodies produced by the llamas’ immune system and expressed these genes in bacteria to produce large amounts of nanobodies for laboratory analysis.

Nanobodies with the desired properties were then selected and tested further to identify those that are most able to neutralize the virus.

The small size of nanobodies allows them to access hard-to-reach places on the SARS-CoV-2 virus that larger antibodies may not have access to. It will also allow researchers to combine nanobodies capable of striking different parts of the virus, thereby minimizing its chances of escaping.

“One of the most amazing things we’ve observed with nanobodies is that they show extraordinary synergy,” said Chait. “The combined effect is far greater than the sum of its parts. “

The researchers then plan to test the safety and efficacy of the nanobodies in animal studies.

Besides being small and nimble, nanobodies are also inexpensive to mass-produce in yeasts or bacteria. In addition, they are remarkably stable.

The ability of these molecules to withstand high temperatures and long storage times means that they could be developed into a drug accessible in various settings around the world.


The above article was published by a news agency with minimal title and text changes.


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