Coronavirus has mutated into at least 30 strains
After, the team collected blood samples and isolated the antibodies that are bound to each version of the spike protein. In the cell culture, one antibody has shown promise in stemming a coronavirus that relies on spike proteins from SARS-CoV-1. In the present study, the team produced a new antibody, but now for the novel coronavirus. They attached two copies of the antibody from the llama, which was effective against the SARS virus.
In the previous research, Winter's antibody has neutralized both SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV over six weeks. Fortunately, the antibodies from Winter, which were extracted four years ago, also staved off SARS-CoV-2, the virus that is now actively spreading and causing COVID-19. Inspired by a special kind of antibody produced by llamas, researchers created a synthetic antibody dubbed VHH-72Fc (blue) that binds tightly to the spike protein on SARS-CoV-2 (pink, green and orange), blocking the virus from infecting cells in culture. The spike protein structure was discovered by part of the same research team and published in the journal Science on February 19, 2020. Image credit: University of Texas at Austin. Antibody therapy
An antibody therapy, also called monoclonal antibody therapy, is a form of immunotherapy wherein monoclonal antibodies (mAb) are used to bind to specific cells or proteins. The treatment aims to trigger the patient's immune system to produce cells that attack infected cells.
"Because of the current lack of treatments for MERS, SARS, and COVID-19 and the devastating effects associated with pandemic coronavirus outbreaks, both prophylactic and therapeutic interventions are sorely needed," the researchers wrote in the paper.
The breakthrough in COVID-19 treatment can provide immediate protection against the pathogen, especially for frontline workers and those who are vulnerable to the illness, such as older adults, those with underlying medical conditions, and those who are immunocompromised.
"Vaccines have to be given a month or two before infection to provide protection. 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," Jason McLellan, professor of molecular biosciences at UT Austin and co-senior author of the paper, said.
Though the treatment is promising, there is still a lot of work needed to use it in clinics and hospitals. Further research and trials are essential to ensure their safety and efficacy . Source: The University of Texas. (2020). https://news.utexas.edu/2020/04/29/antibodies-from-llamas-could-help-in-fight-against-covid-19/ Journal reference: Wrapp, D., De Vlieger, D., Corbett, K. et al. (2020). Structural Basis for Potent Neutralization of Betacoronaviruses by Single-Domain Camelid Antibodies. Cell. https://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(20)30494-3.pdf?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0092867420304943%3Fshowall%3Dtrue
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