By Muhammad Ali
Who would have ever thought that the cute and majestic llama would come to our aid, in such a dire time? How so? Firstly, llama have reportedly been helped deliver groceries in the United Kingdom to elderly and other vulnerable people to the coronavirus. Now, they are part of a global scientific effort to treat COVID-19.
A Therapeutic Promise
Antibodies in llamas have shown promise in treating COVID-19. In 2016, researchers from the University of Texas, and Ghent University’s Vlaams Institute for Biotechnology, for 2 weeks, injected a 9-month-old Llama, named “Winter”, with 2 versions of coronaviruses: the SARS and Middle Eastern Respiratory viruses. Likewise, a Harvard study is doing similar research but by culturing yeast rather than Llamas. Coronaviruses (SARS, MERs, COVID-19) are able to stick to tissue and sicken people by using its unique spikes.
Antibodies from the injected Llama, have demonstrated its ability to destroy the spike protein in coronaviruses, and therefore may potentially be used in the fight against COVID-19. Additionally, these antibodies are small, and therefore can fit into spaces where larger one can’t, and it also means it could be administered by inhaler.This treatment could change the game, and possible save many lives; however, researchers approximate that it could be up to a year until the treatment is approved.