Mama llama trauma

Trooper Levi Macy responded to a call in Eastern Oregon about a wayward llama on a highway onramp…”So, there I was minding my own business when I got a call from OSP Dispatch, telling me that there was a llama, yes a llama, in the road on the I-84 onramp at milepost 304 eastbound. I got there and sure enough a displeased mama llama was laying on the onramp. The owner was taking three llamas from Washington to Utah in the bed of a 1500 Dodge short bed pickup. The truck had a homemade stock rack that didn’t quiet hold the three 🦙 🦙 🦙 (while it took) an uphill corner. Fortunately enough for the llama and myself, the speeds were slow, and traffic was minimal.

“The owner got about a mile down the road before he realized his mama llama was missing out of the back of the truck. But of course, when he stopped his truck, the other two llamas bailed out, running free on the interstate. The owner ran back and gave me the rope to hook to mama llama’s harness. Mama llama refused to get up as you could see by her displeased facial expression … so I told (the owner) that I would llama sit, while he wrangled up the others …”

And so it goes on [what some thought was going to be] a slow day in Eastern Oregon.

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.