WEHI researchers are studying ‘nanobodies’ – tiny immune proteins made by alpacas—in a bid to understand whether they might be effective in blocking SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Alpacas produce unique antibodies—called nanobodies—that can bind very specifically to a protein. The research team are developing nanobodies specific for the SARS-CoV-2 ‘spike’ protein, which sticks out from the surface of the virus and allows the virus to bind and enter human cells.
The team hopes that developing nanobodies against the ‘spike’ protein could be an important step towards new antibody-based ‘biologics’ therapies to treat COVID-19.
This nanobody program against COVID-19 is part of a consortium-led effort that brings together the expertise of Victorian and Australian academic and industry leaders in infectious diseases and antibody therapeutics at WEHI, the Doherty Institute, CSL, Affinity Bio, CSIRO, the Burnet Institute and the Kirby Institute.
Antibodies are key infection-fighting proteins in our immune system. An important aspect of antibodies is that they bind tightly and specifically to another protein, said Associate Professor Wai-Hong Tham, who is leading the research at WEHI.
“Antibody-based therapies—or ‘biologics’—utilize this property of antibodies, harnessing an antibody that binds specifically to a protein involved in disease. In our case, we are looking to develop a therapy that binds to the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ ‘spike’ protein, which it uses to get into human cells. These antibodies could prevent the virus binding to the human receptor called ACE2—stopping the COVID-19 infection cycle,” she said.
A quirk of the alpaca immune system makes alpaca antibodies a key resource in this project.
“Alpacas make unique antibodies, which are smaller than conventional antibodies. Conventional antibodies are composed of two immunoglobin—heavy chains and light chains—whereas alpacas make the majority of antibodies that lack the light chains. Nanobodies are laboratory-made antibody fragments of the heavy chain only domain that recognizes foreign proteins. These bind really specifically to their target protein and are more stable than other antibodies,” Associate Professor Tham said.
Top Image Credit: phys.org
Post by Amanda Scott, NA CEO. Follow her on twitter @tantriclens
Thanks to Heinz V. Hoenen. Follow him on twitter: @HeinzVHoenen
DREAM complex could hold key to fighting cancer and living longer
DNA may be the stuff of life, but if it isn't repaired in our bodies on a regular basis, it can lead to diseases that can cause some pretty unpleasant types of death. DNA [...]
A Promising New Pathway in the Battle Against Aggressive Prostate Cancer
Neuronal Molecule Makes Prostate Cancer More Aggressive Researchers discover a potential therapeutic avenue against an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer and the second leading cause of [...]
Nasal Vaccines: Stopping the COVID-19 Virus Before It Reaches the Lungs
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines have played a large role in preventing deaths and severe infections from COVID-19. But researchers are still in the process of developing alternative approaches to vaccines to improve [...]
NASA Tracking a Huge, Growing Anomaly in Earth’s Magnetic Field – with video
NASA is actively monitoring a strange anomaly in Earth's magnetic field: a giant region of lower magnetic intensity in the skies above the planet, stretching out between South America and southwest Africa. This vast, developing [...]
New, Better Models Show How Infectious Diseases Like COVID-19 Spread
Infectious diseases such as COVID-19 can spread rapidly across the globe. Models that can predict how such diseases spread will strengthen national surveillance systems and improve public health decision-making. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the [...]
Human Antibodies Discovered That Can Block Multiple Coronaviruses Including COVID-19
Results from a Scripps Research and UNC team pave the way for a vaccine and therapeutic antibodies that could be stockpiled to fight future coronavirus pandemics. A team of scientists from Scripps Research and [...]
Nanotechnology could be used to treat lymphedema
The human body is made up of thousands of tiny lymphatic vessels that ferry white blood cells and proteins around the body, like a superhighway of the immune system. It's remarkably efficient, but if [...]
DNA Nanotechnology Tools – From Design to Applications
Suite of DNA nanotechnology devices engineered to overcome specific bottlenecks in the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and understanding of molecular structures. DNA nanostructures with their potential for cell and tissue permeability, biocompatibility, and [...]
Regenerating bone with deer antler stem cells
Scientists from a collection of Chinese research institutions collaborated on a study of organ regeneration in mammals, finding deer antler blastema progenitor cells are a possible source of conserved regeneration cells in higher vertebrates. [...]
AI Takes On Cancer: Analysis of Mutations Could Lead to Improved Therapy
Cancer is a complex and diverse disease, and its range of associated mutations is vast. The combination of these genomic changes in an individual is referred to as their “mutational landscape.” These landscapes vary [...]
Exposing tumours to bacteria converts immune cells to cancer killers
New research on inflammation could lead to better treatments to improve outcomes for people with advanced or previously untreatable cancers. Introducing bacteria to a tumour’s microenvironment creates a state of acute inflammation that triggers [...]
Smart nanotechnology for more accurate delivery of insulin
More efficient and longer lasting glucose-responsive insulin that eliminates the need for people with type 1 diabetes to measure their glucose levels could be a step closer thanks to a Monash University-led project. Published [...]
Efficiently Harvesting Rare Earth Elements From Wastewater Using Exotic Bacteria
The novel strains of cyanobacteria exhibit a fast and efficient “biosorption” of rare earth elements, making recycling possible. Rare earth elements (REEs) are a set of 17 metallic elements that possess similar chemical properties. [...]
Resisting Treatment: Cancer Cells Shrink or Super-Size To Survive
A new approach to image analysis has uncovered how cancer cells manipulate their size as a means of resisting treatment. Researchers have discovered that cancer cells are capable of either shrinking or super-size themselves [...]
New Research Explains Why Children Avoid Severe COVID-19 Symptoms
According to new research, children exhibit a robust initial immune response to the coronavirus, however, they are unable to transfer this response to long-lasting memory T cells like adults do. Researchers led by scientists [...]
Scientists Unravel Protein Map of Mitochondria
A new study sheds light on the organization of proteins within mitochondria. Mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of cells, play a crucial role in the energy production of organisms and are involved in various metabolic and [...]