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New research: More effective “Nanobodies” to fight new coronaviruses

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An international research team led by the University of Bonn has identified and further developed a new antibody fragment against SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus. COVID-19.. The university says these “Nanobodies” are much smaller than classic antibodies (for example, used to treat US President Donald Trump), which makes them more tissue-permeable and easier to mass-produce. I will. Media release.

Researchers at the University of Bonn Hospital have also combined Nanobodies into potentially particularly effective molecules, attacking different parts of the virus at the same time.

The university said the new approach could prevent pathogens from evading activators by mutation. The results were published in the journal Science. (‘Structure-induced multivalent Nanobodies block SARS-CoV-2 infection and suppress mutation escape. Paul-Albert Köeniget. al)

Antibodies are an important weapon in the defense of the immune system against infection. They bind to the surface structure of bacteria and viruses and prevent their replication. Therefore, one strategy in the fight against disease is to produce large quantities of effective antibodies and inject them into patients. However, antibody production is difficult and time consuming. Therefore, they are probably not suitable for widespread use.

Instead, researchers focused on another molecular group, Nanobodies. “Nanobodies are very simple antibody fragments that can be produced by bacteria and yeast and are cheaper,” the university quotes research co-author Dr. Florian Schmidt.

“We first injected the coronavirus surface protein into alpaca and llama,” Dr. Schmidt said. “Then, their immune system primarily produces antibodies against this virus. In addition to complex normal antibodies, llamas and alpaca also produce simpler antibody variants that can serve as the basis for Nanobodies. I will. “

A few weeks later, researchers took blood samples from animals and extracted the genetic information of the antibodies produced from them. This “library” still contained millions of different construction plans. In a complex process, they extracted what recognizes the peplomer, an important structure on the surface of the coronavirus. “We have obtained dozens of Nanobodies in all and analyzed them further,” the media release quoted Dr. Paul Albert König, co-author of the study.

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Source: University of Bonn

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