The world continues to struggle with the Coronavirus. The currently approved vaccines, and even those not available in the US, are attempting to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In-hospital treatments, like remdesivir, have helped treat patients and reduce mortality. Other therapies which require intravenous administration, such as convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibodies, have helped to reduce morbidity and mortality. However, more conveniently administered, easily manufactured, and effective means of helping those affected by this disease are needed since it is unlikely we will develop “herd immunity”, and variants will continue to develop.
Enter the nanobodies. Nanobodies are small molecular compounds which can be manufactured using bacteria or yeast systems. These molecules are currently being studied for use with the Coronavirus, but also in a wide range of diseases from cancer to infectious disease. These small molecules can inhibit the machinery that Coronaviruses use to replicate. Specifically, when looking at the COVID-19 pandemic, these molecules would not be affected by variations in the virus; they would not require the patient’s own antibodies to assist in its effect; and they could potentially be aerosolized and administered by inhaler, thus reducing the need for more cumbersome intravenous applications.
If this sounds like science fiction, the use of nanobody therapy has already been approved for a rare blood disorder (an anti-von Willebrand factor bivalent antibody). All things considered, clinical data suggest that nanobody therapy could potentially offer a better alternative to conventional monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of COVID-19. Stay tuned.