A molecule produced by llamas could protect against all variants of Covid

A recent study by a dozen scientists in the United States and Israel has isolated a nano-antibody that could prove valuable to mankind.

An unstoppable remedy against Covid-19? We are not there yet, but the work recently carried out by a dozen researchers, mostly biochemists or geneticists, invites optimism. These scientists from American and Israeli universities would thus have succeeded in finding effective molecules to block all variants of SARS-CoV-2 at the source and prevent their development.

As Medical News Today explains, these molecules, which are nano-antibodies (or nanobodies) much smaller and less complex than traditional antibodies, were obtained thanks to… a llama. The science news site says that as part of the study, the researchers performed a series of laboratory manipulations on a blood sample from the camelid, which allowed them to find the rare pearl.

Simple and inexpensive to produce, easy to administer

During the process, which consisted in particular in immunizing the sample against Covid, then in making it react to different variants, the scientists thus observed the decisive role played by nanobodies capable, at the molecular level, of “binding simultaneously”. to several coronavirus receptors, thus preventing the latter from developing in the body.

“These nanobodies are very effective against SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Omicron”, confirm the authors of the study, published by Science Direct. The molecule in question could therefore constitute a very interesting basis for treating Covid-19, especially since it is, according to the researchers, rather simple and inexpensive to produce, but also rather easy to administer.

“Probably complementary to the existing vaccine”

“In a preclinical study, we have shown that our nanobody – PiN-31 – can protect both the lungs and the upper respiratory tract against infections, welcomes Professor Yi Shi, doctor of cell biology and lead author of the study, cited by Medical News Today. Our data indicate that nanobody inhalation therapy can minimize transmission and is likely complementary to the existing vaccine.”

It now remains to confront this potential treatment with the next test phases, before considering its large-scale distribution. in any case, the researchers are very optimistic about the potential for assimilation of these nanobodies. “They can help overcome the fundamental problems faced by human antibodies. Because they are large molecules, our traditional antibodies have poor tissue penetration (…) as well as weak or no binding to regions of the surface of certain molecules which are fully accessible only to molecules of smaller size.”

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