Llamas and the coronavirus – level 3

01-09-2021 07:00

Llama antibodies can soon be playing a role in the global fight against COVID-19 if clinical trials live up to their early promise. The trials are being conducted by a Belgian biomedical start-up.

Researchers from the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology and Ghent University Center for Medical Biotechnology are saying that antibodies from a llama named Winter have blunted the coronavirus infections in lab testing. The technology wouldn’t be used to replace vaccines but rather to add to them, helping to protect people with weaker immune systems and those hospitalized by the virus.

Llamas have a particular kind of antibody called heavy chain antibody, and they’re much simpler than the ones that humans have. Due to this, scientists can easily take a little snippet of the protein and glue it to other proteins. Early studies showed effectiveness against several variants of the disease, including the highly infectious delta variant.

Difficult words: biomedical (relating to both biology and medicine), blunt (to weaken), snippet (a small part or piece).

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