(ORDO NEWS) — Millions of years ago, the common ancestor of modern llamas, camels and alpacas underwent an unusual genetic mutation that gave these animals a strange type of antibody that other mammals do not have. Scientists have suggested that they can help fight COVID-19.
Researchers at the Rosalyn Franklin Institute and the University of Oxford told Wired that llama antibodies, also called nanobodies, are capable of fighting the new coronavirus infection.
“These nanobodies can and do block the interaction between the virus and the human cell. They neutralize the virus, “the TV channel 360 reports, as quoted by Ray Owens, professor of molecular biology at the University of Oxford and one of the authors of the study.
Like all antibodies, llama nanobodies have the ability to recognize and attach to a specific site on a specific protein. In this case, to the so-called spike proteins that dot the surface of the new coronavirus. They attach to human cells and allow the coronavirus to enter and infect them. However, llama nanobodies block this possibility, making the virus harmless.
Most species, including humans, produce very similar antibodies. But camels and llamas have tiny antibodies that are called nanobodies because of their size. They are very stable and survive in extreme conditions. Even in the human stomach.
Researchers have identified nanobodies that can withstand SARS-CoV-2. Unfortunately, until they have learned to attach them to the protein tightly enough to effectively block the entry of the new coronavirus inside. However, in those cases when the virus encountered nanobodies, it was completely unable to infect human cells.
Scientists intend to continue their research.
Recall that on Wednesday, Novosibirsk scientists were the first in Russia to receive antibodies that neutralize the coronavirus.
Contact us: [email protected]