Antibodies from a single llama that were analyzed in a Jerusalem lab could be replicated and help “millions” of coronavirus patients, scientists say.
Dina Schneidman-Duhovny of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has examined the qualities of dozens of antibodies from a llama called Wally, and identified which would best fight the coronavirus in humans.
The best candidates have been tested in vitro by her US-based colleagues with live coronavirus and human cells, and appear to significantly reduce the virus’s ability to infect cells.
As the llama antibodies are much smaller than human antibodies — they are often dubbed “nanobodies” — they are simpler and cheaper to replicate artificially. Researchers say they would not need to be taken intravenously, unlike human antibodies, and could be dosed via an inhaler, which is already being developed for clinical testing.
“They are highly potent,” Schneidman-Duhovny told The Times of Israel, adding that the nanobodies have the potential to help millions of patients. “The antibodies stick to the virus and just don’t come off, almost acting like glue. The antibodies are also very specific, targeting the novel coronavirus very precisely.”