New study reveals llama blood contains antibodies for combating coronavirus
With scientists across the globe scrambling to discover treatment for the novel coronavirus, a new Belgian study has revealed llama blood contains antibodies that could help to neutralise the virus.
Scientists from the Vlaams Institute for Biotechnology in Ghent said particles in camelids blood “may serve as useful therapeutics during coronavirus outbreaks.”
“The feasibility of using [llama antibodies] … merits further investigation,” the study said.
The antibodies, first used in HIV research, have proved effective against a viruses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the past.
The remarkable properties of antibodies found in the blood of camelids – camels, llamas and alpacas – were first uncovered by a Brussels University in 1989.
The small size of the antibodies allows them to target microscopic viruses more effectively in what is known as nanobody technology.
Separately, South Korean scientists discovered ferrets could be a “useful tool to evaluate the efficacy of [antiviral treatments] and preventive vaccines” as they responded similarly to humans.
Yet another study has found Syrian hamsters had a reaction to Covid-19 which “closely [resembles] the manifestations of upper and lower respiratory tract infection in humans.”
The study, published in Science magazine, found eight hamsters “lost weight, became lethargic, and developed ruffled fur, a hunched posture, and rapid breathing” when infected with the virus.