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Animal antibodies for Covid-19

A wide variety of animals are now being used to produce and understand the antibodies that can fight against Covid-19.

Human bodies fight diseases with antibodies - blood proteins produced by the immune system.

As reported by Inverse magazine, Sab Biotherapeutics, USA, are using genetically modified cows to produce human antibodies that can neutralise Covid-19. Cows are used because their size means that greater amounts of human antibodies can be sourced from them.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA, have used genetically modified mice to generate human antibodies when searching for the optimal mix of antibodies to fight off Covid-19. This mix is now being tested in human trials.

Research into the unique antibodies of some animals can also help scientists better understand how the human immune system works and might even be used to fight the disease.

The Karolinska Institute, Sweden, has been working on utilising the antibodies of alpacas for human treatments.

And as previously reported in the Digest, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), USA are using llamas in a similar process.

Unlike humans, llamas and alpacas produce two types of antibody, one of which is much smaller than a human antibody, which makes them more effective at neutralizing viruses.

“With antibody therapies, you’re directly giving somebody the protective antibodies and so, immediately after treatment, they should be protected.” said Jason McLellan, professor at UT Austin.


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