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Saúde / 29/04/2021


Nanobodies found in alpacas reduce Covid's viral load

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Nanobodies found in alpacas reduce Covid's viral load

Australian researchers have come up with an alternative against Covid using a cocktail of neutralizing antibodies, known as "nanobodies", found in alpacas, of the camelid family.

The cocktail was able to block the entry of Sars-CoV-2 and reduce the viral load in mouse cells. The experience was described in a study published in the PNAS scientific journal.

Nanobodies are tiny antibodies naturally produced by animals of the camelid family, such as alpacas and llamas - and can be easily adapted for humans.

According to the scientists, the mixture of nanobodies detected could be useful "in immunocompromised people, who may not respond as well to vaccination".

And yet, to prevent outbreaks in high-risk environments, such as nursing homes for the elderly.


Australian medical entities the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), Peter Doherty Institute and Kirby Institute, used a pair of alpacas that received a non-infectious and synthetic portion of the protein spike - or "S" - used by the new coronavirus to enter the cells.

The procedure was to induce the production of nanobodies against Sars-CoV-2 by the alpacas' immune system and then extract the sequences of genes responsible for their coding.

Thus, the researchers would be able to produce them in the laboratory later.

By analyzing the fragments that best “fought” the spike protein, the group came up with two promising candidates, which were synthesized and applied to mice infected with the new coronavirus.

“By combining the two leading nanobodies in this nano-body cocktail, we were able to test their effectiveness in blocking Sars-CoV-2 entering cells and reducing viral loads in preclinical models [using animals],” announced Wai- Hong Tham, Malaysian associate professor at WEHI and research leader, in a statement.

Neutralization of the virus

The scientists then looked at how the nanobodies bound to the spike protein and how it impacted the virus's ability to bind to the ACE2 receptor, the enzyme with which a new coronavirus binds to enter human cells.

According to the study, the nanobody pair was able to inhibit the link between the so-called “receptor binding domain” (RBD) of the spike protein and the ACE2 receptor - which is present in various parts of the body human lungs, heart, kidneys and intestines.

In addition, the cocktail induced a "potent neutralization" against Sars-Cov-2, reducing the viral load in mice.

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