Nanobodies produced by llamas and camels can effectively target the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, new research shows, leading scientists to believe they could be an effective new treatments can be developed.
Conclusion – published by experts from the Rosalind Franklin Institute in nature communication Journal – Show that small antibodies bind tightly to the virus, neutralize it, and could provide a cheap and easy alternative to human antibodies taken from recovered COVID patients.
It was also discovered that when the molecules were produced in the laboratory, and linked together in chains, they were able to offset both the alpha and beta forms of COVID, as well as the original forms.
Negotiations are now underway to develop a new nasal spray with its ingredients to incorporate the nanobodies.
Prof Miles Carroll, deputy director of Public Health England’s (PHE) National Infection Service, said single domain antibodies “are among the most effective Sars-CoV-2 neutralizing agents we have ever tested”.
“While this research is still in its early stages, it opens up important possibilities for the use of effective nano-treatments for COVID-19,” he said.
“We believe that the unique structure and strength of nanobodies contribute to their significant potential for both the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 and to work collaboratively to advance this work in clinical studies.” Looking forward.”
According to the study, short chains of molecules, which can be produced in large quantities in the laboratory, also significantly reduce symptoms of the virus when given to infected animal models.
Human antibodies have been used for severe cases during epidemics, but usually need to be administered by infusion through a needle in a hospital, making this a more time-consuming process.
Professor Ray Owens, Head of Protein Production at the Rosalind Franklin Institute and lead author of the research, said: “Nanobodies have several advantages over human antibodies: they are cheap to produce and can be delivered directly into the airways or nose via a nebulizer. The spray, therefore, can be self-administered at home instead of requiring injections.”
He added: “This may have benefits in terms of ease of use by patients, but it also receives treatment directly at the site of the respiratory tract infection.”
The researchers were able to generate the nanobodies by injecting a portion of the spike protein called Fifi into a llama, which is part of the antibody production facility at the University of Reading. The spike protein is found on the outside of the virus and is responsible for binding to human cells so that it can infect them.
Scientists said the injections didn’t make Fifi sick, but they did trigger her immune system to fight off the virus proteins by generating nanobodies against her.
A small blood sample was taken from the llama and the researchers were able to purify four nanobodies, which were linked together in chains of three to increase their ability to bind to infection. These were then produced in cells in the laboratory.
When virus-infected hamsters were given one of the nanobody chains, the animals showed a significant reduction in disease.
Researchers say the results are the first step toward developing a new type of treatment against COVID-19, which could prove invaluable as the pandemic continues.
Professor James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, who helped lead the research, said: “The drugs that treat the virus are still going to be very important, especially when vaccinations are not being done at the same pace around the world. And the risk of new variants emerging capable of bypassing vaccine immunity remains.”
The research team, which included scientists from the University of Liverpool, the University of Oxford and PHE, now hopes to receive funding to prepare for clinical studies in humans.
PA. Additional reporting by
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