Islamabad - The team involves researchers from the Rosalind Franklin Institute, Oxford University, Diamond Light Source and Public Health England.

They hope the antibodies – known as nanobodies due to their small size – could eventually be developed as a treatment for patients with severe COVID-19. Llamas, camels and alpacas naturally produce quantities of small antibodies with a simpler structure that can be turned into nanobodies. The team engineered their new nanobodies using a collection of antibodies taken from llama blood cells.

They have shown that the nanobodies bind tightly to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, blocking it from entering human cells and stopping infection.

Using advanced imaging with X-rays and electrons at Diamond Light Source and Oxford University, the team also identified that the nanobodies bind to the spike protein in a new and different way to other antibodies already discovered.