It's not the first time we have heard about scientists finding something special inside of a llama, and this time the news is even more promising.
According to researchers from the University of Texas, the National Institutes of Health, and Ghent University in Belgium, llama's could be the weapon humans need to battle the coronavirus. How? Well, the researchers say that llama antibodies have the capability of neutralizing the spike protein in COVID-19, this is the key element of the virus that hooks itself onto new host human cells. Once the virus has hooked itself into new cells, it begins its replication process, but if the spike protein is neutralized, the spread doesn't continue.
Jason McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences at UT-Austin, said, "While we were working on this project, the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus emerged, and the spike proteins are pretty similar between SARS-CoV-2 and the original SARS. We thought that maybe this nanobody if we isolated it, would also bind to this one." McLellan also believes that these llama antibodies could give humans temporary immunity, here's what he said, "Immediately after injection, they'll basically have immunity to that virus. It will wane over time, after a certain number of months, perhaps, but they become immediately immune."
The first steps for these antibodies are animal testing, which is planned to start sometime soon. If the testing on animals goes well, scientists and researchers will move onto human clinical trials. It should also be noted that if all testing and trials go well, these antibodies can be grown artificially in mass quantities, meaning that they can be distributed out to the public efficiently.
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