Scientists from Protein Production UK, a collaborative project led by The Rosalind Franklin Institute, have remoted nanobodies—a sort of antibody utilized in the analysis, which binds to the ‘spike’ protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The crew has already made these nanobodies, which bind with high affinity to the ‘spike’ protein, available to researchers at Oxford University. They will be making these important research instruments widely out there to other analysis groups all over the world.
Nanobodies are antibodies present in camelids, which are much smaller than human antibodies. Their high stability, small structure, and specificity make them ideal for the purification and stabilization of proteins and protein structures, prior to imaging.
The staff at The Franklin are targeting their work at a protein that sits on the outside of the SARS-CoV-2 viral particle known as the ‘spike’, which binds to human cells throughout an infection. This protein has a specific area—the receptor-binding domain (RBD) – which is responsible for this binding action. The protein is a major goal in COVID-19 research, as it performs a pivotal role in infection and could also be a strong target for future vaccines and therapies.
Nanobodies can stabilize the ‘spike’ to enable higher imaging on the atomic scale, utilizing superior imaging techniques along with cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). The nanobodies additionally enable the RBD to be stabilized bound to its goal, serving to researchers better perceive how it behaves in the body.