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Scientists Can Now Detect All Types Of Ebola Virus – Thanks To Nanobodies

Nanobodies are increasingly being used for treating the coronavirus these days. In May of 2021, researchers made a new inhalable nanobody-based treatment that could prevent and treat the COVID-19 coronavirus through ultra-low doses. Although the treatment was still in a very early, preclinical phase, it offered the hope that scientists could entirely change the way we prevent radical viruses on a societal level.

In August of 2021, researchers created two new nanobodies that could block the coronavirus infection and lock Spikes into an inactive mode. For the uninitiated, the coronavirus associated with causing COVID-19 makes its way into human host cells using its Spike protein and a host cell receptor. The new synthetic nanobodies would interrupt this process.

The team of researchers is working on nanobody tests to detect all known and even yet unknown species of the Ebola virus, according to c&en. They engineered single-domain antibodies, known as nanobodies, to be used against five species of Ebola, and then used the same antibodies to detect a sixth species that was unknown up to now.

“This approach of trying to find conserved antibodies that cut across various different species has a lot of utility,” told c&en Daniel Bausch, director of emerging threats and global health security at the nonprofit Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics.

The research team used lamas to produce these nanobodies. If this sounds familiar, it’s because a llama-based antibody cocktail has already been used to neutralize the COVID-19 virus.

In this case, the scientists injected a pair of llamas with proteins from the five known Ebola viruses. They then isolated and sequenced the antibodies the animals produced in response to this action. 

The study allowed the researchers to identify the two nanobodies that are strongly bound to all five nucleoproteins. This will lead to the development of nanobodies that can detect all kinds of Ebola viruses. The next step would be to test if the nanobodies could be further engineered to produce antiviral therapies in addition to diagnostics.

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