It has been reported that two types of antibodies from llamas, a species native to South America, can disable the new type of corona virus in cells cultured in the laboratory.
Details of the study, conducted under the leadership of James Naismith and Raymond Owens from The Rosalind Franklin Institute in the UK, were published in the journal “Nature Structural & Molecular Biology”.
Antibodies are part of what is known as the adaptive immune system; they are molecules that essentially morph in response to an invading virus or bacteria. The llamas have a heavy and light antibody chain as well as a “nanobody.” The small reengineered part of the llama antibody is also known as a nanobody.
Scientists have discovered two closely related “nanobody” that prevent the spikes of Corona Virus from binding to the ACE2 protein in cell culture. Coronavirus uses the ACE2 protein as a gate to enter and infect cells.
How llama blood could help fight coronavirus
Drop of blood taken from llama
Scientists identfiy antibodies which show weak binding to coronavirus
Weakly binding antibodies are enginnered to create new nanobodies which bind tightly
New nanobodies bind to the virus’ spike, blocking it
Virus is neutralised
The research team is aiming to test its prospective therapy in animal trials this summer, with a view to starting clinical trials later in the year.