New Delhi | Jagran Trending Desk: Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified a nanobody that has the capacity to block SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes Covid-19 infection — from entering human cells. The discovery can result in the development of an anti-viral treatment against the coronavirus, as per the results of the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

“We hope our findings can contribute to the amelioration of the Covid-19 pandemic by encouraging further examination of this nanobody as a therapeutic candidate against this viral infection," said study co-author Gerald McInerney from the Karolinska Institute, as quoted in a report by news agency IANS.

Nanobodies are typically easier to produce cost-effectively at scale, span less than one-tenth the size of conventional antibodies, and have a proven record of inhibiting viral respiratory infections.

 

The said nanobodies occur naturally in camelids and can be adapted for humans. As part of the study, researches injected an alpaca (animal) with the coronavirus spike protein to identify the small antibodies. The Blood samples from the alpaca showed a strong immune response against the spike protein. Following this, the researchers cloned, enriched and analysed nanobody sequences from the alpaca's B cells, a type of white blood cell, to determine which nanobodies were best suited for further evaluation.

They identified a small antibody called ‘Ty1’, that efficiently neutralizes the virus by attaching itself to the part of the spike protein that binds to the receptor ACE2, which is used by SARS-CoV-2 to infect cells.

"Using cryo-electron microscopy, we were able to see how the nanobody binds to the viral spike at an epitope which overlaps with the cellular receptor ACE2-binding site, providing a structural understanding for the potent neutralisation activity," said study researcher Leo Hanke.

Posted By: Lakshay Raja