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Current Affairs

Nanobodies to fight coronavirus

Date: 15 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

An international research team has identified and further developed novel antibody fragments against SARS-CoV-2.

 

Background

These “nanobodies” are much smaller than classic antibodies and therefore, penetrate the tissue better and can be produced more easily in larger quantities.

 

Details

  • Nanobodies are antibody fragments that are so simple that they can be produced by bacteria or yeast, which is less expensive.

  • The researchers have also combined the nanobodies into potentially particularly effective molecules, which attack different parts of the virus simultaneously.

  • The new approach could prevent the pathogen from evading the active agent through mutations.

 

Production process

  • Researchers first inject a surface protein of the coronavirus into an alpaca and a llama. Their immune system then produces mainly antibodies directed against this virus.

  • In addition to complex normal antibodies, llamas and alpacas also produce a simpler antibody variant that can serve as the basis for nanobodies.

  • A few weeks later, the researchers take a blood sample from the animals, from which they extracted the genetic information of produced antibodies. 

 

Role of anti-bodies

  • Antibodies are an important weapon in the immune system’s defence against infections. They bind to the surface structures of bacteria or viruses and prevent their replication.

  • One strategy in the fight against disease is therefore to produce effective antibodies in large quantities and inject them into patients. However, producing antibodies is difficult and time-consuming.