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United Kingdom scientists using llama blood to help develop COVID-19 vaccine

Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2020. 4:54 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Scientists from the United Kingdom’s Rosalind Franklin Institute are using antibodies found in the blood of llamas as the template for a possible COVID-19 vaccine, reports the BBC.

Information on the development of the llama-based vaccine was published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, where lead researcher Professor James Naismith, compared the process of creating the antibodies to that of cutting a key that fits the coronavirus lock.

“With the llama’s antibodies, we have keys that don’t quite fit – they’ll go into the lock but won’t turn all the way around,” Naismith said. “So we take that key and use molecular biology to polish bits of it, until we’ve cut a key that fits.”

During the development process, llama blood was exposed to the coronavirus to see which antibodies would bond with the virus at a weak level. Those that showed bonding would be redesigned by scientists to have a stronger bond with the virus. The BC also reports that the vaccine could see clinical trials within the next few months.

The latest development is just one of several vaccine attempts being worked on in the UK. Several other countries such as the United States and China are also aggressively seeking to develop a vaccine.


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