Llama nanobodies have the potential to treat COVID-19, finds research


In the continued fight for treatment of Covid-19, researchers at the School Of Medicine, University Of Pittsburgh have described a method to remove tiny, yet extremely strong SARS-Cov-2 antibody fragments. Extracted from Llamas, these antibody fragments could be modeled into inhalable therapeutics with the potential of prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Called nanobodies, these special Llama antibodies are much smaller than human antibodies. In addition, these antibodies are much more stable, and more effective to neutralize SARS-CoV-2.

In fact, the method enables to examine SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies at an unparalleled scale. Therefore, this enables to quickly discover thousands of nanobodies with unparalleled specificity and affinity.

Llama antibodies several times effective than previous antibodies candidates, finds research

For the study, to generate nanobodies, the research team turned to a black Llama, who happened to resemble the moniker of black Labrador of one of the researchers.

Thereafter, the research team immunized the Llama with a string of SARS-CoV-2 protein. After two months, the research team observed the animal’s immune system produced mature nanobodies against the virus. Employing mass spectrometry, one of the research assistants identified the nanobodies in the animal’s blood that binds to SARS-CoV-2 most effectively.

Following this, the research team exposed the nanobodies in the blood to live SARS-CoV-2 virus. This led to the observation that only a fraction of a nanogram was strong enough to neutralize enough virus to block a million cells from getting infected.

Meanwhile, these nanobodies produced in the Llama are one of the most effective therapeutic candidate for SARS-CoV-2. Also, these nanobodies are several hundred times more effective than the ones discovered through the same phage methods. In fact, for decades, same phage display methods have been used to fish for human monoclonal antibodies.

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