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Current Affairs

Anti-bodies from llamas to fight COVID-19

Date: 06 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The researchers have linked two copies of a special kind of antibody produced by llamas and created a new antibody, which binds tightly to a key protein on the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2.

 

Background

This protein is the spike protein, shaped like a corona (crown) that gives coronaviruses their name. It is also the protein that allows the virus to break into human and animal cells.

 

Details

  • Initial tests with the new antibody and cultured cells indicated the antibody blocks viruses with this spike protein from infecting cells.

  • The team is preparing to conduct preclinical studies in animals such as hamsters or nonhuman primates, with the hopes of next testing in humans. The goal is to develop a treatment that would help people soon after infection with the virus.

  • The researchers are from the University of Texas at Austin, US National Institutes of Health and Ghent University in Belgium.

  • They have reported their findings in the May 5 issue of the journal Cell. The paper is online as a “pre-proof”, meaning it is peer-reviewed but undergoing final proofreading.

  • Winter, the llama, is 4 years old, female, and living on a farm in the Belgian countryside along with approximately 130 other llamas and alpacas.