CAPE TOWN – Scientists at the University of Pretoria have developed ground-breaking nanobodies that can be used to easily detect Covid-19 and deliver results in minutes.
The researchers based at the University of Pretoria developed unique nanobodies which could be used in rapid tests as in therapy for Covid-19 with studies on nanobodies, in collaboration with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), proves to neutralise SARS-CoV-2 in cells.
“Nanobodies can also be used to design ‘dipstick’ tests, to test saliva, and produce a result in a few minutes, like a pregnancy test. These can be used in communities and homes for COVID-19 diagnosis. They can also be used in an airport testing centre,” says Professor Tahir (TS) Pillay, Head of Pathology and Chemical Pathology at the UP/National Health Laboratory Service, Steve Biko Academic Hospital, who is leading this research. “For example, before flying abroad, passengers can be tested, will get the result within 30 minutes and be allowed to check-in or not.”
Nanobodies are smaller antibodies but may be used to fight Covid-19 differently, as these nanobodies are so small, they’re able to prevent Covid-19 from binding to receptor cells rendering the virus incapable of infection while the conventional approach such as vaccines that present themselves as Covid-19 in order to trick the body to producing antibodies to fight off the virus once it actually appears.
“Nanobodies are one-tenth the size of conventional antibodies, which makes them easier to work with while there is an urgent need for good, cheap, sensitive rapid tests for COVID-19,” Pillay says. Another advantage nanobodies have over many other tests is that most of them make use of conventional antibodies which are temperature sensitive and expensive to produce while a nanobody ” is a very stable antibody and is resistant to temperature changes over a wide range,” Pillay adds.
“Nanobodies are one-tenth the size of conventional antibodies, which makes them easier to work with while there is an urgent need for good, cheap, sensitive, rapid tests for COVID-19,” he says.
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