In the quest for a coronavirus treatment, scientists are turning to a 4-year-old llama named Winter

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Business Insider:

  • Research from Belgian and US scientists suggests that a four-year-old llama named Winter and 130 other llamas may hold the key to neutralizing the effects of the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Scientists from Belgium’s VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology and the University of Texas at Austin found that Winter was successfully immunized from the spike proteins of the SARS and MERS virus by producing a special kind of camelid antibody.
  • The findings could be applied to the COVID-19 coronavirus — which is a cousin of the SARS virus — and offer early promise as to the potential Winter’s blood and antibodies hold in helping treat COVID-19.
  • The research from the llama studies is still in preliminary stages, however, as scientists are still conducting preclinical trials on hamsters, The Washington Post reported.

A four-year-old llama named Winter may hold the key to finding a way to treat the coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, according to US and Belgian scientists studying llama antibodies.

They published their findings in the science journal Cell on Tuesday, which found that Winter and 130 other llamas on the research farm produce a special kind of camelid antibody that may offer an early promise to find a way to neutralize the virus, known as SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers include those from Belgium’s VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology as well as the University of Texas at Austin.

The research stemmed back to 2016; the researchers were studying camelid antibody response to the 2003 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus — which is a cousin of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — as well as 2012 MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) virus.

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