By John Kessler
Scientists at the University of GÃ¶ttingen in Germany have developed nanobodies that effectively block SARS-CoV-2.
Nanobodies are smaller versions of antibodies – molecules that attach to and neutralize viruses and other infectious agents.
Mini-antibodies, or VHH, are directed against the S-protein of the coronavirus, which is involved in the attachment of the virus to receptors on the surface of the infected cell and its subsequent penetration into the interior. Nanobodies block the receptor that binds the coronavirus domain, preventing infection.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (MPI) in GÃ¶ttingen, together with colleagues from the University Medical Center GÃ¶ttingen, have developed mini-antibodies that combine all the properties to fight COVID-19.
For the first time, they combine stability and effectiveness against the virus and its strains: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.
Dirk Gerlich, MPI Director of Biophysical Chemistry.
Gerlich emphasizes that the new nanobodies can withstand temperatures up to 95 ° C without losing their functions, so they can remain active in the body for a long time. In addition, heat-resistant nanobodies are easier to manufacture, handle, and store.
Also, the nanoshells developed by the team bind to the adhesion protein 1000 times more strongly than their analogues.
The researchers also constructed various structures from nanobodies. For example, triads consisting of several molecules – three identical nanobodies connected to each other.
The triad corresponds to the symmetry of the three receptor-binding domains of the S-protein, which cannot be released, which increases the efficiency of neutralizing the virus by 30 thousand times compared to single bodies. In addition, in this case, the release of nanobodies from the body is slowed down, which contributes to a longer therapeutic effect.