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Llama ‘nanobodies’ are powerful new COVID-19 treatments: Research



A llama named Wally may hold the key in the fight against the coronavirus, according to a new study.

According to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, researchers have discovered a way to extract “tiny but extremely powerful SARS-CoV-2 antibody fragments from lumpless camels,” according to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, refers to the virus that causes COVID-19.

According to the university, so-called “nanobodies” – much smaller than human antibodies and many times more effective at neutralizing deadly bugs – could be invented as inhaler therapy. with the ability to prevent and treat disease.

“Nature is our best inventor,”

; said Yi Shi, assistant professor of cell biology at Pitt.

“The technology we developed examines SARS-CoV-2 deactivated nanoparticles on an unprecedented scale, allowing us to quickly detect thousands of nanoparticles with affinity,” he added. and unmatched specificity.

To create the nano bodies, the senior author turned to Wally, a black llama that resembles and shares the same name as Shi’s black Labrador.

The scientists immunized Wally with a fragment of the beetle’s mutant protein – and after about two months, the animal’s immune system produced mature nanosomes.

According to Pitt, Yufei Xiang, a research assistant in Shi’s lab, determined that the nanocomposites in Wally’s blood were most strongly bound to the coronavirus.

With the help of the school’s Vaccine Research Center, the scientists exposed their nano-bodies to live viruses and found that just a fraction of the nanogram could neutralize enough to prevent Block a million infected human cells.

“These nanocomposites represent some of the most effective therapeutic antibody candidates for SARS-CoV-2, hundreds to thousands of times more effective than other llama nanobodies detected through the same a method of phage display that has been used for decades to capture human monoclonal antibodies. ”The piston.

A llama is eating grass.
Alamy Stock Photo

Shi’s stable nanoparticles could remain at room temperature for six weeks and could be used to create inhalable mist to deliver antiviral therapy directly into the lungs.

In contrast, traditional antibodies require intravenous administration, dilute the product and require much larger dosages, costing patients and insurance companies around $ 100,000 per treatment, according to the university.

“Nanosomes can be much lower priced,” said Shi. “They are ideal for addressing the urgency and scale of the current crisis.”

Paul Duprex, study co-author and director of the Center for Vaccine Research, said: “As a virologist, it’s hard to believe how exploiting the oddity of llama antibody generation can be. translates into the creation of a powerful nano-weapon against the clinical isolates of SARS-CoV-2,


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