The hunt for COVID-19 treatment leads to a llama called Winter

The hunt for an effective treatment for COVID-19 has led one team of researchers to an unlikely ally: a llama named Winter and her antibodies

The researchers linked two copies of a special kind of antibody produced by llamas to create a new antibody that binds tightly to a key protein on the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This protein, called the spike protein, allows the virus to break into host cells. Initial tests indicate that the antibody blocks viruses that display this spike protein from infecting cells in culture.

“This is one of the first antibodies known to neutralize SARS-CoV-2,” says Jason McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas at Austin and co-senior author, referring to the virus that causes COVID-19.

The team is now preparing to conduct preclinical studies in animals such as hamsters or nonhuman primates, with the hopes of next testing in humans. The goal is to develop a treatment that would help people soon after infection with the virus.

“Vaccines have to be given a month or two before infection to provide protection,” McLellan says. “With antibody therapies, you’re directly giving somebody the protective antibodies and so, immediately after treatment, they should be protected. The antibodies could also be used to treat somebody who is already sick to lessen the severity of the disease.”

Read on, my friends. Our society dotes on awarding laurels to champions. In addition to the scientists leading the fight against COVID-19, I suggest thanks also be awarded to the critters who test and trial and help us all to survive.

One thought on “The hunt for COVID-19 treatment leads to a llama called Winter

  1. p/s says:

    Scientists working for the US military have designed a new Covid-19 test that could potentially identify carriers before they become infectious and spread the disease, the Guardian has learned.
    In what could be a significant breakthrough, project coordinators hope the blood-based test will be able to detect the virus’s presence as early as 24 hours after infection – before people show symptoms and several days before a carrier is considered capable of spreading it to other people. That is also around four days before current tests can detect the virus.
    The test has emerged from a project set up by the US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) aimed at rapid diagnosis of germ or chemical warfare poisoning. It was hurriedly repurposed when the pandemic broke out and the new test is expected to be put forward for emergency use approval (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within a week. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/01/us-germ-warfare-lab-creates-test-for-pre-infectious-covid-19-carriers

    The economic effects of the pandemic could cause a record 8 per cent annual decline in global carbon emissions, according to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). “This is a historic shock to the entire energy world. Amid today’s unparalleled health and economic crises, the plunge in demand for nearly all major fuels is staggering,” said IEA director Fatih Birol. “It is still too early to determine the longer-term impacts, but the energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before.”
    In Europe, a report out today estimates that there were 11,000 fewer deaths due to air pollution in the 30 days ending 24 April. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2237475-covid-19-news-global-co2-emissions-could-fall-8-per-cent-in-2020/

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