As the world reels under the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, a recent study has found out a potentially useful connection between llamas and what may be a cure to the Coronavirus. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, the National Institutes of Health and Ghent University in Belgium, have found out that llamas have certain antibodies which could be the key to treating COVID-19 patients.
The research on this began four years ago when the group of scientists was looking for antibodies to fight the 2003 SARS virus and the 2012 MERS virus, which are also strains of coronaviruses. As a result of their research, a llama named Winter who hails from Belgium and was used to develop treatments for the SARS and MERS viruses four years ago when she was just nine months old.
Four-year-old Winter was called in again for testing this new strain of SARS-CoV-2 and was injected with spike proteins from the new coronavirus. Six weeks later, scientists took a blood sample from Winter and found that her antibodies appeared to neutralize COVID-19.
"Llamas' antibodies are known for their ability to neutralize viruses, and when tested against the new coronavirus, proved effective in doing so once again," the study says.
Llamas unlike humans and most species produce two sets of antibodies when they get sick. One around the size of human antibodies, and one that's much smaller. Those smaller antibodies are successfully able to penetrate the tiny holes in the protein spikes of the COVID-19 virus thereby managing to eradicate them, as per a leading US Daily.
“This is one of the first antibodies known to neutralize SARS-CoV-2,” said Jason McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences at UT Austin and co-senior author, in a statement.
Scientists now suggest that linking the two tiny llama antibodies together and transmitting them to humans could be an effective way of treating coronavirus and alleviating its devastating effects.