A team of experts at Karolinska Institute in Sweden has discovered a small neutralizing antibody, which might be effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2. This small neutralizing antibody is called a nanobody. Experts have claimed that it can block the virus from entering the human cells. They are quite hopeful that these nanobodies can be used to make an antiviral treatment against COVID19. The findings of this study have been published in the Journals of Nature Communication. The corresponding author of the research Gerald Mclnerney has said that the findings of the study are supposed to encourage further testing on this nanobody and it might stand as a therapeutic entrant against COVID19 infection.
Experts have informed that these nanobodies are fragments of antibodies. They transpire naturally in camelids, and it has the potential to be adapted for humans as well. Scientists started working on this research in February 2020. They injected an alpaca with COVID19 spike protein. Experts examined alpaca after 60 days and found that it had developed a strong immune response against coronavirus spike protein. Experts observed the nanobody sequence from alpaca’s B cells to find out which one would be most suitable for further evaluation. The Nanobody sequence called Ty1 was found to be efficient enough in neutralizing the virus. The study says that it attaches itself to the part of the spike protein, which reacts with the ACE2 receptor. ACE2 receptor is used by the virus to attack the cells in the human body. Thus, Ty1 blocks the virus to enter the cells.
Scientists have used Cyro Electron Microscopy to see how nanobody joins itself to the viral spike at an epitope, which overlaps with the ACE2 receptor at the joining point. It also provides a structure for strong neutralization activity. Experts have claimed that nanobodies have more advantages than conventional antibodies. They can be easily produced at a cost-effective scale as well. They can be used for humans with current protocols. This is the first project from CoronaB Consortium. It has been funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research.