Today’s Solutions: October 17, 2021

Researchers from the Rosalind Franklin Institute at Oxford University have identified an unusual source for a potential Covid-19 treatment: the llama and the Syrian hamster.

Like humans, llamas produce antibodies to recognize and defeat infections, but their antibodies are unusually small, making them easier to manufacture and study in a lab. The size of these “nanobodies” makes them particularly useful in research.

Last year, the researchers published a study demonstrating that they could use llama nanobodies to neutralize SARS-CoV-2, but since then, they’ve been working on the painstaking task of demonstrating that llamas could produce their own nanobodies against the disease. Their efforts have paid off and their research demonstrated that the llama nanobodies did a much better job of blocking the spike protein from attaching to the ACE2 receptor, producing antibodies that are about 1,000 times more potent than human antibodies.

To further test their findings, the researchers turned to Syrian hamsters. These large hamsters have ACE2 receptors that look a lot like those of humans, and they are also susceptible to Covid-19. Infecting the hamsters with llama nanobodies and then SARS-CoV-2, the researchers found that hamsters who received the nanobody treatment experienced a less severe infection than those who did not—experiencing less weight loss and lung infection.

The nanobodies were introduced via a nasal spray, and although human bodies are much different than those of hamsters, the researchers believe that in the future, their technology could be used to deliver protective doses of nanobodies to vulnerable patients entering high-risk environments like hospitals. It could also be beneficial in developing a therapy for future pandemics.

James Naismith, professor of structural biology at Oxford University, told Wired, “We’ll get through the clinical trials and get that accumulated knowledge, so that when the next thing comes—the next respiratory disease—then we know the road map.”

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

This therapeutic plant could help reduce morphine tolerance and opiate addiction

Opioid overdoses are on the rise in the US and around the world, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the situation. Addiction treatment, harm reduction, and improved health access are all effective strategies for addressing ... Read More

New treatment kills cancer cells in terminally ill patients

There are about 12,200 new head and neck cancer cases in the UK every year, and many of these patients are diagnosed at advanced stages when the disease is very difficult to treat. The standard ... Read More

6 Ways we can help our dogs live long and healthy lives

Research has shown that having a dog can help boost our physical and mental health as well as make us feel younger. Pets are an enormous source of joy and comfort, and as dog parents, ... Read More

Grauer’s gorilla population makes surprising comeback in DRC

A recent study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has good news for gorillas. The study found that the number of Grauer’s gorillas, the world’s largest gorilla subspecies, has increased from 6,800 compared to ... Read More

New Zealand opens unusual vaccination destination for the weekend

New Zealand is getting an unconventional Covid-19 vaccination clinic in the form of a Boeing 787 plane. The winged vaccination site is being operated by Air New Zealand this weekend as part of the government’s ... Read More