In a major development, researchers have found that two small, stable antibody variants derived from South American mammal’s llams can offset Coronavirus. The researchers, including those from the Rosalind Franklin Institute, UK , claimed that they were able to neutralise the effects of Coronavirus in lab cultured cells using the two variants.
The study was reported in the ‘Nature Structural and Molecular Biology’ journal. The researchers mentioned in the study that ‘nanobodies’ can prevent infection of SARS-CoV-2 by blocking its interaction with ACE2 protein. The virus uses this protein as a gateway to enter the body.
They also mentioned that passive immunisation (providing a patient virus neutralising agent – from people earlier infected or purified antibodies) is a useful therapy against Coronavirus. In the present study, the researchers looked at antibodies derived from llamas and how they neutralise SARS-CoV-2.
They said that human antibodies, similar to all mammals, have two chains — heavy and light. However, camelids, such as llamas, have an additional single heavy chain antibody variant called as nanobody.
Nanobodies are small, stable and are easily produced. They are often used as alternatives to conventional antibodies.
They said that the nanobodies from llams, called as H11-H4 and H11-D4, targeted the region of the protein “immediately adjacent to and slightly overlapping with the ACE2 binding region.”
The researchers claimed that nanobodies can alone or in combination with other antibodies, may be good for passive immunisation of patients with severe coronavirus.