American and Belgian scientists announced that a Lama named winter (“winter” — in translation into Russian) may help in the search for effective treatment for coronavirus infection after they discovered in the blood of the animal antibodies which are apparently capable of neutralizing coronavirus, a new type.
Scientists from the Belgian center for medical biotechnology, VIB-UGent and the University of Texas at Austin published a study in the journal Cell, whereby the blood llama named winter was discovered antibodies block the virus SARS-CoV-2.
In 2016 a group of researchers looked for antibodies that could block coronaviruses — SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV. Recall that they caused a wave of infections with coronavirus in 2003 and 2012.
“The work was a minor project in 2016. We thought it might be interesting. Then there is a new coronavirus, and our work has become of utmost importance,” said Xavier Selens, the head of the Belgian team.
In past years, scientists injected the Lam strains of viruses SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV, and then took blood samples to study the changes, reports Reuters.
Lama, and other members of the family of camelids differ in that their immune system is capable of producing not only conventional antibodies but also antibodies of small size, which are more convenient for the work of scientists.
The Belgian research group led by Burt Sepelcom revealed small fragments of antibodies, known as nanotesla to find out which of them most closely in contact with the virus.
Xavier Sellens called the new coronavirus “a son of the SARS virus” because both have the shape of a crown with a spiky protein spikes, which can then latch onto the antibodies.
A group of researchers intends to begin animal trials by the end of the year to start testing on humans. According to Selena, with pharmaceutical companies are already negotiating the development of a drug against coronavirus in case studies give encouraging results.
Scientists are trying to develop a vaccine against coronavirus using antibodies in the blood of llamas, whose size is two times smaller than the size of the antibodies contained in human blood. Small size allows the use of more efficient scientific methods that can help in the fight against the novel coronavirus. The basic working principle is that the antibodies cling to the spinous processes of the protein of the coronavirus, and then down the structure and completely destroy the virus.