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Researchers engineer a tiny antibody capable of neutralizing the coronavirus

Date: 5.2.2021 

Michael Schoof, a graduate student in the lab of Peter Walter, Ph.D., a renowned scientist specializing in protein sorting and cellular membranes, was part of a small team on a quixotic mission: to immobilize SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID, by using a synthetic version of tiny antibodies originally discovered in llamas and camels.

Kredit: Thomas Quine / Wikimedia Commons.These "nanobodies," as they're known, had come from the UC San Francisco lab of Aashish Manglik, an up-and-coming protein scientist who had spent the previous three years building a vast library of nanobodies and developing new ways to exploit their unusual properties.

In the paper, almost 60 co-authors described a bold, innovative COVID countermeasure, proposing that their nanobodies could be used in an inexpensive, easy-to-transport nasal spray capable of neutralizing SARS-CoV-2. Among themselves, they dubbed the molecules AeroNabs.

Since then, the UCSF team has been seeking an industry partner willing to bankroll the costly and rigorous clinical trial process, but currently pharmaceutical companies are focused on vaccine development for prevention and more traditional antibodies for treatment.

But the nanobody approach is promising. Due to the simple structure of nanobodies, AeroNabs could be far cheaper and faster to mass-produce, far easier to transport, and far easier to store than the traditional antibodies currently in use and under development.





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