By Jackie Salo
August 24, 2021
-New York Post
Llama antibodies could be a potent force in preventing infections from contagious COVID-19 variants, a biomedical company has claimed.
Researchers from the VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology in Ghent, Belgium, have found that antibodies extracted from a llama named Winter have neutralized the virus, including its variants, in laboratory testing.
The treatment would supplement vaccines by giving enhanced protection to people with weakened immune systems or help people who have been hospitalized with the virus, the company said.
Llama antibodies, which are unusually small, are able to bind to a specific part of the virus’ spike protein, blocking it from infecting cells.
“Their small size … allows them to reach targets, reach parts of the virus that are difficult to access with conventional antibodies,” VIB-UGent group leader Xavier Saelens said.
Dominique Tersago, chief medical officer, said the antibodies have been proven in lab studies to show “strong neutralization activity” against the highly contagious Delta variant, which has led to case surges across the globe.
Researchers launched clinical trials last week to study the antibodies with healthy volunteers and hospitalized patients and expect the study to show similar results.
The development of the treatment comes after studies in 2016 showed llama antibodies were effective against the SARS and MERS coronaviruses.