Today’s Solutions: October 19, 2021

While llamas are proving to be a funny addition to your Zoom call, it seems these creatures might wind up playing a bigger role in the coronavirus pandemic. According to a peer-reviewed study, llama blood might hold the key to unlocking new treatments for COVID-19. The study details how special antibodies within llama blood can be joined together to create a new antibody with the capacity to bind the spike protein the coronavirus uses to infect cells.

By binding onto the spike protein, the antibody can prevent the coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, from infecting other cells in culture. This was discovered, in part, thanks to the efforts of a 4-year-old Belgian llama named Winter. In 2016, Winter helped scientists to study the coronaviruses which cause SARS and MERS by receiving injections of active spike proteins over the course of weeks. As a result, scientists were able to identify antibodies that gravitated towards these spike proteins and isolate the ones that showed promise in neutralizing the virus.

Four years on, Winter is thriving and that early work means we’re one step closer to neutralizing COVID-19. Regardless of the study’s early successes — and Winter the llama’s positive demeanor — this doesn’t mean the antibodies are immediately viable as a preventative or cure. The team from the University of Texas in Austin are now setting their sights on preclinical studies in animals such as hamsters or nonhuman primates, with an eventual goal of developing a treatment for humans.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

These are the inaugural winners of the Earthshot Prize

We recently wrote about Earthshot Prize nominee Vinisha Umashankar, a clever 14-year-old student from Tamil Nadu who created a mobile ironing cart that runs off solar power. Although Umashankar didn’t win an Earthshot Prize, the ... Read More

6 Ways to end bedtime procrastination

Are you a bedtime procrastinator? Do you know you should go to sleep but end up binge-watching television, scrolling through social media, or looking for an appetizer recipe to bring to that dinner party this ... Read More

Residents of this small Spanish town pay less taxes the more they recycle

The small Spanish town of La Nucía is located just 10 kilometers away from the touristy seaside resorts of Benidorm. But compared to its skyscraper-dominant neighbor, La Nucía’s architecture ranks high in sustainability rather than ... Read More

Help scientists locate walruses by becoming a walrus detective

The Arctic is under increasing threat due to climate change, and so is the biodiversity that it supports. That’s why the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and the British Antarctic Survey have decided to collaborate with ... Read More

EU is giving away 60,000 free Interrail tickets to European youth

The European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas realizes that the coronavirus pandemic forced young people to “[miss] valuable and formative moments of their youth.” As a recognition of their sacrifice in the name of public ... Read More

Shades of Favor is the first all-Black female group to summit Kilimanjaro

A team of climbers has made history as the first group of Black women to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s largest free-standing mountain. The group of nine women come from a wide range of backgrounds ... Read More