HomeLlama Could Provide Strong Protection Against Every COVID-19 Variant - Research

Llama Could Provide Strong Protection Against Every COVID-19 Variant – Research

Published on

If a virus attempts to escape by mutating, another nanobody is ready to keep it in check.

Researchers from Mount Sinai have demonstrated that tiny, powerful immune particles produced from llama blood might offer strong defense against every COVID-19 strain, including Omicron, and 18 related viruses, including as SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1, which were responsible of the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The team published their findings today in Cell Reports, where they propose that these “super-immunity” molecules, called nanobodies, could be the basis for a rapid-acting, inhalable antiviral treatment or spray that could be stored and used worldwide against the developing pandemic and future viruses.

Llamas, camels, and alpacas have different immune systems from the rest of the animal kingdom because they only make antibodies with one polypeptide chain instead of two. Antibodies produced with this design are about a tenth the size of conventional antibodies, are highly stable, and bind disease sites very effectively. Because of these special qualities, scientists may easily connect several nanobodies together in a daisy chain so that whenever a virus tries to escape by changing, another nanobody is prepared to stop it.

According to lead author Yi Shi, due to their small size, “these camelid nanobodies are likely to be effective against future variants and outbreaks of SARS-like viruses.” If and when a new COVID-19 variant or SARS-CoV-3 appears, “their superior stability, low production costs, and the ability to protect both the upper and lower respiratory tracts against infection mean they could provide a critical therapeutic to complement vaccines and monoclonal antibody drugs.”

Dr. Shi’s team inoculated Wally the llama with the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD), a small segment or spike of the virus that latches onto the protein on the surface of human cells to gain access and disseminate infection, as part of their investigation.

Researchers discovered that after Wally was repeatedly immunized with the RBD, he developed “super-immunity” against a wide variety of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

After making this finding, the team was able to identify and confirm a sizable collection of extremely powerful antiviral nanobodies that were effective against a variety of SARS-like viruses.

According to co-author Ian Wilson, the “tiny size of these nanobodies gives them a crucial advantage against a rapidly mutating virus.”

In particular, “it allows them to penetrate more of the recesses, nooks, and crannies of the virus surface, and thus bind to multiple regions to prevent the virus from escaping and mutating.”

Based on these structural data, the scientists developed a very effective nanobody capable of binding to two different regions of the RBD of SARS-like viruses at once, effectively blocking any chance of the virus evolving resistance to the treatment.

The resulting molecule (PiN-31) is incredibly stable and, in its aerosolized form, can be used topically as a spray or treated for inhalation, which the same researchers shown in earlier work can be effective against SARS-CoV-2.

While more study is necessary, according to Dr. Shi, who conducted the majority of the research at the University of Pittsburgh before relocating his lab to Icahn Mount Sinai, “we believe that the broad protection, ultrapotent nanobodies we were able to isolate in the lab can be harnessed for use in humans.”

He continues, “these highly versatile antiviral agents can be rapidly produced virtually anywhere from microbes such as E.coli or yeast cells, he adds. In the past, nanobody therapies have been clinically proven as safe and effective against human diseases, such as a blood clotting disorder and cancer.”

Clinical trials have already shown that nanobody therapies are both safe and effective against human ailments like cancer and a blood clotting condition.

Dr. Shi adds that “we strongly believe that the novel, inhalable, and extremely potent nanobodies we’ve discovered can meet that demand on a global scale, particularly in developing countries that are most vulnerable to viruses and the lack of therapies to treat them.”

Image Credit: Getty

You were reading: Llama Could Provide Strong Protection Against Every COVID-19 Variant – Research

Latest articles

Aging: This Is What Happens Inside Your Body Right After Exercise

The concept of reversing aging, once relegated to the realm of science fiction, has...

Immune-Boosting Drink that Mimics Fasting to Reduce Fat – Scientists ‘Were Surprised’ By New Findings

It triggers a 'fasting-like' state In a recent study, scientists discovered that the microbes found in...

Gun Violence in America: What They Don’t Talk About at the Debate

Some of the less discussed impacts of gun violence in six major U.S. cities...

This Might Be a Better Way to Age-proof Your Eyes and Reduce AMD Risk, According to Optometrist

According to expert, this supplement can absorb blue light, protect the highly sensitive cells...

More like this

Aging: This Is What Happens Inside Your Body Right After Exercise

The concept of reversing aging, once relegated to the realm of science fiction, has...

Immune-Boosting Drink that Mimics Fasting to Reduce Fat – Scientists ‘Were Surprised’ By New Findings

It triggers a 'fasting-like' state In a recent study, scientists discovered that the microbes found in...

Gun Violence in America: What They Don’t Talk About at the Debate

Some of the less discussed impacts of gun violence in six major U.S. cities...