Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Camelids Against Coronavirus

Nanobodies – small antibodies derived from camelids – effectively neutralise SARS-CoV-2

17 September 2021

Camelids Against Coronavirus

Camelids – the camel family – are fascinating, not just because some have humps but because of their antibodies which are about half the size of human antibodies. Scientists have chopped up these little antibodies further to make tiny ‘nanobodies’ which are as effective at binding to proteins as their full-sized equivalent. Here, investigators identified a subset of nanobodies that bind the coronavirus spike protein. In the image, each blue disc is a cell culture and the grey splodges are where the coronavirus has entered, and killed, the cells. The top left culture has no nanobodies and in each subsequent disc the concentration of nanobody increases. At the bottom right there is almost no grey meaning that the nanobody concentration was sufficient to effectively neutralise the virus. Nanobodies are robust and can be cultured in large quantities cheaply making them an exciting prospect for Covid-19 therapy.

Written by Julie Webb

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