The antibodies from a single llama analyzed in a laboratory in Jerusalem could be replicated and help “millions” of coronavirus patients, the scientists said.
Dina Schneidman-Duhovny of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has examined the qualities of dozens of antibodies from a llama called Wally, and determined which is best against the human coronavirus.
The best candidates were tested in vitro by her colleagues in the United States with live coronavirus and human cells, and seem to significantly reduce the virus’s ability to infect cells.
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Since llama antibodies are much smaller than human antibodies – they are often referred to as “nano-bodies” – they are simpler and cheaper to reproduce artificially. They will not require intravenous administration, unlike human antibodies, and can be quantified via an inhaler, which is currently in development for clinical trials, the researchers said.
Schneidman-Duhovny told The Times of Israel: “They are very powerful, and added that nanoparticles have the potential to help millions of patients.” “The antibodies stick to the virus and don’t produce it, almost acting like glue. The antibodies are also very specific, and precisely target the new coronavirus “.
She added: “Unlike the existing types of antibodies, such as those provided to Donald Trump, they can be made very easily and cheaply.” This is because they can be produced in microbiological form, unlike others that require a more complex process, she explains.
Schneidman-Duhovny, a computer biologist, is working on a team led by the University of Pittsburgh, whose computer analyzes DNA data on antibodies her US colleagues provide and generate. models to evaluate which types are effective against coronavirus.
Antibody therapies to new coronaviruses are neither a new idea nor a concept of sourcing them from animals. Since the beginning of the pandemic, antibodies from recovered patients have been used, and now there are cocktails containing synthetic antibodies, the same as those based on human and kinetic antibodies. Wrestling made famous to Trump.
But Schneidman-Duhovny said that judging by their in vitro performance, her team’s antibodies were more effective than anything seen so far – including another attempt at the humpless camel. treatment product.
Her research, recently reviewed and published in the journal Science, focuses on the potential of antibodies to be synthesized, based on antibodies produced by Wally, who lives on a residential farm. Massachusetts.
Her team injected Wally with a protein fragment of the coronavirus mutation. After about two months, the animal’s immune system produces adult antibodies, which are extracted and regenerated.
Schneidman-Duhovn said she was “excited” by her group’s antibodies, which she said would soon be designed as a spray and sent for clinical trials.
She studied llama antibodies together with colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh when the pandemic began. Long before they heard of a new coronavirus – they were looking at the common potential for regenerating human antibodies.
Her lead collaborator Yi Shi, an assistant professor of cell biology at Pittsburgh, was very concerned about focusing on COVID-19.
Schneidman-Duhovn recalls: “He was hesitant because this was a very competitive field and we were both very early in our careers, but I said the pandemic was out of control and we really should do whatever they can. ” Both researchers were in their 40s and neither had terms.
Schneidman-Duhovn convinced him on a call to Zoom to take the leap and focus on coronavirus, and in a press conference last week he hailed antibodies as “ideal for addressing urgency. level and importance of the current crisis. “
Paul Duprex, director of the Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research, outlined the process – and his optimism – during the press conference. “We mixed a small amount of nanoparticles with live virus from a patient in Munich, and we added a few drops of that solution to a cell plate,” he said.
“Finally, after a few days, we measured the neutralization level of these nanocrystals and how many cells survived. What we found was really remarkable, only a very small fraction of those nanobjects could neutralize enough of the SARS-COV-2 particles to protect millions of cells. That is much more effective than many other antibody treatments. “
Cyrille Cohen, who heads the immunotherapy laboratory at Bar-Ilan University, who is not part of the llama group, told The Times of Israel that he considered the study “very interesting” and noted that a llama antibody-based products are approved. and is used for a rare blood disorder.
“On the good side, these are very stable antibodies and are also small so their shelf life may be longer than conventional antibodies,” he said of the new coronavirus study. They can be biologically active at lower doses so that from a production standpoint you may not have to produce large quantities, so you can use smaller dosages. “
“The probable problem is that these are not human antibodies, meaning that even though they are smaller and easier to produce, when injected into the body, they can trigger antigens,” he added. The patient’s immune response will ‘attack’ and ‘reject’ these antibodies. “