Alternative therapeutic strategies for COVID-19

Manish Jaiswal, TIFR Hyderabad

Extraordinary efforts are being made by scientists across the globe to find an antidote against COVID-19. While the development of vaccines is an obvious choice, alternative approaches are also being explored such as developing a nano antibody, also known as nanobody/VHH,  that can specifically bind to SARS-CoV-2 virus and neutralize it. Nanobodies are very tiny antibodies that are generated in some animals such as Llamas and Camels. As compared to the popular antibodies, nanobodies are tiny, they are known to be more stable and they can be easily produced in mass scale in a cell-based system using recombinant DNA. It is possible to use nanobodies to suppress the respiratory infection as they can be directly administered via an inhaler to the site of infection. A team of researchers have identified a nanobody that can bind to the surface protein of  SARS causing virus SARS-CoV-1. Further, they engineered this nanobody so that it can efficiently bind to the surface protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They show that these engineered nanobodies can effectively neutralize pseudo SARS-CoV-2 viruses suggesting that these nanobodies can be potentially therapeutic for the COVID-19 pandemic.

[Last update 26 May 2020]