World over as pharmaceutical giants are in a race to roll out their vaccine to combat Covid-19 virus, a new study suggests that antibodies produced by Llama’s can be used in the fight against it.
The studies have shown that llamas produce powerful antibodies that are far more effective at fighting coronavirus than human equivalents at preventing illness and infection from Covid-19.
According to a DailyMail report, the Llamas produced antibodies known as ‘nanobodies’ due to their size, researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, have isolated them from a single llama named Cormac. Their lab experiments have so far shown that their nanobodies adhere to the spike protein on SARS-CoV-2, the virus which not only causes Covid-19 but was able to effectively neutralise it.
The researchers have now isolated these nanobodies in order to test their ‘therapeutic, preventative, and diagnostic potential’ in the fight against Covid-19. Early results show that they were effective in aerosol form and were given to human volunteers in the form of nasal sprays and inhalers commonly used to help with asthma.
Senior author of the study, Professor David Brody, said, ‘We hope these anti-Covid-19 nanobodies may be highly effective and versatile in combating the coronavirus pandemic.’
According to their study, nanobodies are naturally produced by the immune systems of the camelids species such as camels, llamas and alpacas. On average, the protein is about a tenth the weight of most human antibodies was not only cheaper but also easier to engineer.
The new potential cure for the coronavirus known as NIH-CoVnb-112 is ten times more effective than any found to date, Professor Brody and lead author Thomas ‘T.J’ Esparza said.
The research team at NIH, Maryland injected Cormac five times in a period of 28 days with ‘pseudovirus’ developed in a lab, featuring the same characteristic ‘spike protein’ as SARS CoV-2. The pseudovirus kickstarted Cormac’s immune system, which naturally created nanobodies. These antibodies were successfully able to block infections by covering the teeth of the spike protein and further prevented it from binding with the ACE2 receptor.
They also found that it had low levels of NIH-CoVnb-112 nanobodies that prevented the modified pseudovirus from infecting these cells in the petri dish experiments. It was also equally effective when it was sprayed through a nebuliser or inhalers mostly used to help treat asthma patients.
According to Scientific Reports, the NIH, Maryland neuroscientists have applied for a patent on the nanobody they discovered.