I want to talk about llamas. Specifically one named Winter.
You may think llamas are cute. Or llamas are calm, chill, fluffy animals. But let me tell you from personal experience, if they are anything like their alpaca cousins, llamas can get agitated af and spit all over you.
But llamas like Winter, and other camelids, may provide a repository of antibodies to help fight many diseases, INCLUDING COVID-19.
Wait, what? I know. So. Random.
The species camelid, which include camels, llamas, and alpacas, are being studied due to evidence that their antibodies may be better at fending off disease than our own antibodies and could be used as potential treatments for a number of rare disorders.
This is due to a characteristic unique to camelids immune systems.
Humans produce antibodies of only one type, which are Y-shaped and consist of 2 light and 2 heavy multi-amino acid chains. However, camelids produce Y-shaped antibodies of two types: one that is very similar to size and structure as our own, and the other type that consists of only 2 heavy chains (no light chains) and are much smaller. These antibodies are called nanobodies.
The nanobody binding sites are VERY similar to humans, and as a result, our own bodies tend to tolerate them well. Plus, they are not difficult to modify, if needed. These nanobodies offer multiple advantages: 1. Efficiently produced in culture. 2. Very stable even at room temperature. 3. Super small (in the nanometer range, hence nanobodies).
Their small size is the biggest advantage in regards to disease, allowing them to access hidden proteins on, or even inside of, cancer cells and pathogens. They have already been used to treat a handful of diseases in humans; for example, the camelid nanobody caplacizumab is FDA approved as treatment for a rare blood disorder called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).
Llama antibodies have been studied for their effectiveness against a number of viruses including HIV and influenza. But most recently, a Belgian llama named Winter was injected with the spike protein found on SARS and MERS to induce an antibody response. And once those antibodies were isolated, they were tested on the viruses associated with SARS and MERS - and they were VERY effective in neutralizing those two coronaviruses in vitro.
And those same antibodies also worked to neutralize SARS-CoV-2.
The thought is camelid antibodies fight SARS-CoV-2 better than our own antibodies, primarily due to the nanobodies. The thought is the smaller nanobodies can access smaller areas of the spike protein which the larger antibodies cannot, neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 more effectively.
And if these nanobodies are found to be safe in humans, researchers are hopeful they could be used as both prophylactic and therapeutic treatment to provide short-term protection against COVID-19. Though not certain it will work, just the prospect is incredible.
Man, science is so cool. And. So. Random.
Additional note: Governor Cuomo announced 3 deaths in children who presented with the rare atypical Kawasaki Disease + toxic shock syndrome.
Though it has not been confirmed to be related to COVID-19, this disease process is very rare and the increased number of cases seems much too coincidental. Parents - PROTECT YOUR KIDS. The link may never be proven, but if it is, you do not want to regret not erring on the side of caution, do you?
Super random note: BUY ALL THE MANTISES NOW. PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE MURDER HORNETS.
Warning - this ish is graphic:
And time to end with the COVID-applicable term of the day: Godwin's law.
"Godwin's law - or Godwin's rule of Hitler analogies - is an Internet adage asserting that 'as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1'. That is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds, the point at which effectively the discussion or thread often ends."
All I can say is, uhhh, people are creative during these COVID times.
And finally, to end on a serious note: Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas, especially my Mummy.
I love you and miss you. And I hope to see you soon ❤❤❤.