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Scientists in Sweden say alpacas could hold key to radical Covid-19 blocker

Tyson the alpaca could hold the key to finding a vaccine for the coronavirus, according to the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
Tyson the alpaca could hold the key to finding a vaccine for the coronavirus, according to the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. © FRANCE 24 screengrab.

Tyson the alpaca could hold the key to developing a process to block the coronavirus. FRANCE 24's Catherine Norris-Trent and James André report from the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

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Leading scientists in Stockholm are working on a pioneering treatment involving llamas and alpacas such as Tyson in the fight against Covid-19.

"Tyson has the antibodies against SARS-Covid-2 virus," explains Dr Gerald McInerney, Associate Professor of Virology at the Karolinska Institute. "Camels, and alpacas and llamas and other animals from that family have special, small single-chain antibodies. Tiny antibodies they've proved can block Covid-19."

The institute is studying how to put these tiny antibodies on cells, blocking the virus from getting in and to stop patients from developing the disease.

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From alpaca blood samples the researchers can clone antibodies en masse in the laboratory. They hope to produce a short term treatment, most likely as a mouth spray, or inhaler.

"We are very excited that we have something that's very functional," says Dr McInerney.

Click on the player above to watch the full report.

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