With the advent of COVID-19, scientists around the world have made every effort to create vaccines, and have achieved certain results in a short time. Vaccination takes place not only in developed countries, but even in poor countries. But the efficiency remains in question. People continue to get sick and die from the coronavirus even after being vaccinated. And the cases of deaths from the vaccines themselves are also not isolated. Recently, it was even found that vaccinated people can carry the infection.and infect healthy people. But how about treating the disease? The answer to this question is given by sad statistics on deaths. While scientists were working on vaccines, no breakthroughs were made in the field of treating the disease. Fortunately, good news came from German scientists at the University of Göttingen. They managed to create the most effective agent to date that blocks SARS-CoV-2.
Antiviral agent for all strains of coronavirus
Researchers at the University of Göttingen said they were able to create nanobodies that are able to bind and neutralize the virus 30,000 times better than current methods. According to scientists, they are resistant to the immune escape mutation K417N / T, E484K, N501Y and L452R, which are found in new strains of coronavirus.
But that’s not all. The researchers also reported that they had optimized the nanobodies to be stable and resistant to high temperatures. In other words, they are undemanding to transportation conditions. Recall that some vaccines require constant extremely low temperatures. Otherwise, they lose their properties, making vaccination difficult in underdeveloped regions with poor infrastructure.
In addition, antibodies were found to naturally fold the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein in the cytosol of Escherichia coli. Such abilities simplify their production and also improve the adaptation of nanobodies to viral escape mutations.
These qualities make Göttingen nanobodies especially attractive as a treatment for COVID-19, which is required in huge quantities around the world.
How did they create an effective cure for coronavirus
All the advantages and features of nanobodies were reported in the EMBO Journal . The article describes how 45 SARS-CoV-2 blocking nanobodies (anti-VHH antibodies) were produced by immunizing alpacas. As a result, they produced mini-antibodies to the S-protein of the coronavirus, which ensures the attachment of the virus to the receptors of the infected cell. That is, the particles block the binding receptor of the virus.
Scientists have created triads, that is, structures of three identical nanobodies that are connected to each other. The triad corresponds to the symmetry of the three receptor-binding domains of the S-protein. As a result, the efficiency of neutralizing the coronavirus is increased by 30 thousand times in comparison with conventional single antibodies.
Another advantage of the triads is that they delay renal excretion. Due to this, they are retained in the body longer, resulting in a longer therapeutic effect.
Prospects for the best coronavirus remedy
One of the co-authors of the article, Dirk Gerlich, Ph.D., director of biophysical chemistry at MPI, said that nanobodies combine exceptional stability and outstanding effectiveness against the virus and its mutants such as alpha, beta, gamma, as well as such dangerous ones as delta and delta plus .
Another co-author notes that single nanobodies are potentially suitable for inhalation and therefore for direct neutralization of viruses in the respiratory tract. In addition, because they are very small, they can easily penetrate tissues and prevent further spread of the virus at the sites of infection.
Göttingen’s team is currently preparing nanobodies for therapeutic use. As the scientists themselves say, they want to test their invention as soon as possible for safe use as a medicine, so that they can be useful to those who are seriously ill with COVID-19, as well as those who have not been vaccinated and do not have effective immunity.