November 27, 2022

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The NIH team isolated camel nanoantibodies against COVID-19 ​

The NIH team isolated camel nanoantibodies against COVID-19 ​

The NIH team isolated camel nanoantibodies against COVID-19 ​. It has long been suggested that llamas may be the key to developing effective treatments against COVID-19 and influenza. This morning, scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made new progress in llama research and isolated promising antibodies from South American animals.

The NIH team isolated camel nanoantibodies against COVID-19 ​

NIH researchers isolated COVID-19 antibodies (called nanobodies) from a llama called Cormac. Studies have shown that an antibody called NIH-CoVnb-112 can prevent COVID-19 infection. Interestingly, the researchers determined that the antibody works well in liquid or aerosol form, indicating that the antibody may still be effective after inhalation. The data was published in the journal “Science Results”.

Nanobodies are a special type of antibodies naturally produced by llamas and other camelid animals. They are smaller than typical antibodies found in humans. The researchers said that Nanobodies are “a free-floating form at the end of the heavy chain protein arm, forming the backbone of a typical Y-type human IgG antibody.” These characteristics play an important role in the immune response.


The NIH study was led by two neuroscientists Thomas J. “TJ” Esparza and David L. Brody, both of whom worked at the NIH National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. Esparza and Brody were not the first scientists to consider llama antibodies as potential COVID-19 treatments. Researchers from the Frahms Institute for Biotechnology in Ghent and the University of Texas at Austin studied the potential therapeutic effects of these antibodies on COVID-19.

In addition, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have synthesized llama nanobodies, which have shown effective ability to bind to the COVID-19 spike protein in early studies. In addition, British researchers have adopted a similar approach. Scientists at the Rosalind Franklin Institute in the United Kingdom told us earlier this year that they intend to use this research for human trials.

In the NIH study, the researchers used a slightly different strategy to discover Nanobodies. Nanobodies bind to the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor before entering the cell. Esparza said that he and his partners “developed a method to isolate the infection-blocking nanobody by covering the teeth of the spike protein that binds to and unlocks the ACE2 receptor.”

After in-depth research on Cormac, the research team found that llamas produced 13 kinds of nano-antibodies, which may be strong candidates for anti-COVID-19. From that group of 13 samples, they chose NIH-CoVnb-112. The study found that a specific antibody “binding to the ACE2 receptor is 2 to 10 times stronger than Nanobodies produced in other laboratories.” NIH said that another experiment showed that the Nanobody directly adheres to the ACE2 receptor binding part of the spike protein.

The research team found that the Nanobody is effective in both aerosol form and liquid form. The NIH team applied for a patent for the NIH-CoVnB-112 nanobody and is committed to further research.

Esparza said in a statement: “Although we still have a lot of work to do, these results represent a promising first step.” “With the support of NIH, we are moving rapidly to test whether these Nanobodies can work. Safely and effectively prevent COVID-19. Collaborators are also working hard to find if they can be used for cheap and accurate testing.”

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