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Nasal injection of llama blood: experimental treatment for COVID-19 has proven to be very effective

A COVID-19 drug made from the blood of a llama named Fifi has shown "significant potential" in clinical trials. The edition told in more detail with the BBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

The medicine is made from special nanobodies - small, simple versions of antibodies that llamas and camels naturally produce in response to infection.

When the therapy is tested in humans, it could be used as a simple nasal spray to treat and even prevent infection, scientists say.

Professor James Naismith, who is the director and one of the leading researchers at the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxfordshire, explained that the coronavirus-infected rodents treated with the new nasal spray recovered completely within six days.

So far, the experiments have only been conducted on rodents, but the Public Health Organization of England said it is one of the "most effective SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing agents" they have ever tested.

On the subject: The US has developed a nasal spray vaccine against COVID-19: how it works

This effectiveness in the fight against COVID-19 is due to the strength with which nanobodies bind to the virus.

Just like human antibodies, virus-specific nanobodies bind to viruses and bacteria that enter our body. This binding essentially marks the virus as an immune red flag, which allows the body's immune system to target it.

The nanobodies, which the researchers produced using the llama's immune system, bind particularly strongly to the virus.

“This is where Lama Fifi helped,” explained Professor Naismith.

Fifi was vaccinated with a tiny, non-infectious piece of viral protein and thus stimulated her immune system to produce special molecules. The scientists then carefully selected and purified the powerful nanobodies from Fifi's blood sample - the ones that most closely matched the viral protein.

The team was then able to grow a large number of specially selected powerful molecules.

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"The immune system is so amazing that it works better than anything that humans can create - evolution is difficult to defeat," Naismith is convinced.

Professor Sheena Krukshenk, an immunologist at the University of Manchester, said the development is considered very promising, but is still in the early stages of testing.

“We need to get more efficacy and safety data before we move on to human trials,” explained Krukshenk. “At the same time, it is very promising, besides, it is cheap and easy to use, and this is a big plus. Unfortunately, COVID-19 will be with us for some time, so more drugs will be needed. "

Professor Naismith and his collaborators, who published their research in the journal Nature Communications, agree that even with the success of COVID-19 vaccines, having an effective treatment is essential.

“Not the whole world is vaccinated at the same rate,” he said. "And there is still a risk of new options emerging that can bypass immunity from vaccination."

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