Nanobodies May Fight Covid- 19

Nanobodies May Fight Covid- 19

Covid 19 (caused by SARS-CoV-2) has infected upwards of 108 million individuals and to date has been terminal for over 2.7 million people worldwide. As vaccinations sweep the globe, scientists are working fervently to mitigate developing variants as well as find a cure beyond current inoculations.

According to a new study, nanobodies may be able to fight Covid-19 more effectively than lingering antibodies or even vaccinations. In addition, nanobodies may be so powerful they could soon battle other viruses just as bad or worse than the coronavirus.

Minimal Antibodies

You may have heard of antibodies, the Y-shaped proteins able to be released from cells to go out and hunt for foreign invaders. Although this natural process is an amazing systemic function, sometimes certain pathogens can trick, evade, or overtake antibodies rendering them weak or useless. Currently, those infected with Covid-19 develop antibodies but the duration of sustainably is minimal. In most people it is reported that antibodies last approximately 3-8 months until depletion and infection then becomes a risk again.

The University of Minnesota reports on two studies that show the highest detection of antibodies lasts upwards of 8 months stating,

“Despite concerns of waning immunity, appropriate immunoassays can detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at 8 months after infection in most asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic persons,”

Recently, scientists have located nanobodies, unique antibodies found in certain non-human sources which may offer an advantage over conventional antibodies in the fight against Covid-19 and other SARS related viruses.

Alpaca Punch

Nanobodies are found in an unlikely host.

Described by News Medical,

“Nanobodies (Nbs) are a particular type of antibodies naturally produced by camelids’ immune systems (i.e., camels, llamas, and alpacas). Unlike normal antibodies made from 4 proteins bound together: two heavy chains and two light chains, nanobodies are made from just 2 proteins: 2 heavy chains, constituting a single variable domain (Nb) specific for binding antigens.”

The advantage of nanobodies is that they are much smaller in size than antibodies affording them the ability to penetrate deeper into tissue to fight stubborn or evading pathogens. This ability to do a deep stealth dive and wage war on pending disease has prompted researchers to study if nanobodies, which have been used to fight specific fever and respiratory viruses in the past, could be used against Covid-19. The results are showing great promise.

Nanobody Study

A study of the effectiveness of the production and activation of virus killing nanobodies in an alpaca (similar to a llama) was published in BioRxiv of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.  It was stated that,

“In this study, an alpaca was immunized with the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein (S)….The researchers identified three Nbs [nanobodies] that exhibited potent neutralization activity against the live virus and also a panel of SARS-CoV-2 pseudo-typed viruses.”

One effective nanobody was also chosen from a llama. These four nanobodies are now being studied to offer as a potential future vaccine against Covid-19. Currently, the combination of two or more of these nanobodies are able to target two different parts of the Covid spike protein resulting in 100x more effectiveness at neutralizing the virus. This is a breakthrough that may have the potential to take vaccination to a whole new level.

The best part of these nanobodies is that once they attack pathogens they render them unable to regenerate. According to Paul-Albert König, Ph.D., the study’s lead author

“The change is likely to be irreversible—the virus is therefore no longer able to bind to host cells and infect them,”

The laboratory testing of how nanobodies may fight Covid-19 are underway all over the globe including research at the University of Texas at Austin; the National Institutes of Health; and Ghent University in Belgium. Although this pandemic is devastating in so many ways, science is stepping up and making discoveries able to increase human safety and longevity. By preparing an offensive against future viral threats that are sure to arise, the concerted effort amongst this community is proving to be highly successful.