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Llamas provide anti virus nanobodies

Tuesday July 14th 2020

Scientists have turned to llamas to generate a lab-engineered antibody treatment for the COVID-19 virus, it has been announced.

The "nanobodies" are derived from a llama antibody and will bind very tightly to the spike protein in the virus, according to researchers at the Rosalind Franklin Institute, Oxford, UK.

Laboratory tests on live viruses have confirmed that it can neutralise the virus in an "extremely potent" way, the researchers say.

One of the nanobodies, known as H11-H4, can also be combined with human antibodies, potentially creating a treatment with double effects. The llamas were provided by the University of Reading and are a species that generates heavy chain antibodies only.

Institute director Professor James Naismith said: “With this work, a world leading team of scientists created, analysed and tested the nanobody in 12 weeks. We have carried out experiments in just a few days, that would typically take months to complete. This was only possible because so many scientists set aside their other work and brought their skills to bear.

"The ability to work at speed and with purpose is essential in an unfolding pandemic, and we are hopeful that we can push this breakthrough on into pre-clinical trials.”

James N Naismith et al. Neutralizing nanobodies bind SARS-CoV-2 spike RBD and block interaction with ACE2. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 13 July 2020

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41594-020-0469-6

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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