There have now been well over three million confirmed cases of Coronavirus worldwide. When unreported or unconfirmed cases are taken into account, the likely number is far higher than this.
As of yet, treatment options are very limited. Medical professionals can treat the symptoms of the condition, but not the condition itself.
However, large-scale efforts to find an effective testing is ongoing across the globe. One key approach could be the use of sheep to generate antibodies for use in serological testing.
Read on as we explore the role of these living factories in finding a way forward for robust testing for Coronavirus infections.
The War Against the Coronavirus
The Coronavirus is a highly contagious respiratory condition. Having originated in China late in 2019, it has spread to just about every country on earth.
Most Coronavirus patients will make a full recovery, some people will have only mild symptoms, and will not even require medical attention.
However, for a significant minority, Coronavirus will cause very serious harm. While the percentage of Coronavirus sufferers who lose their lives is small, it represents a large number. Thousands of people are dying from Coronavirus each day.
No viable large-scale treatment currently exists. Efforts to come up with a vaccine are ongoing around the world.
A large part of the containment process at the moment relates to diagnosis. Healthcare professionals are working hard at the moment to administer and assess as many tests as possible in respect of those who may be infected.
An effective testing protocol allows for better containment, as contract tracing of infected persons allows those who have come into contact with them to protect themselves in an appropriate way.
As they are widely used in diagnostics, animal antibodies like ours may play a big role in this effort.
What Are Antibodies?
Antibodies are the proteins that our bodies use to fight off various diseases and infections. Our plasma cells produce them, and our immune systems then put them to work when fighting bacteria and viruses.
Antibodies develop in response to the presence of foreign entities that invade a mammalian body, when the common cold attacks a person for the first time, the body will produce antibodies to fight it off the invading virus. In simple terms, once these antibodies are in circulation your body will be protected against further infection from the same virus for the rest of your life.
In very simple terms this is the scientific basis for immunity.
Coronavirus is a new infection that differs from normal flu is many ways, mode of infection, rate of spread, and death rates have led to extreme measures across the globe to slow infection rates. Coronavirus affects people In different ways, ranging from mild (or no symptoms) to life-threatening illness and death.
As well as curing disease, antibodies have important diagnostic uses. However, human antibodies are not always required to carry out these functions.
White Antibodies work with animals to produce antibody products. Our products are widely used in the Medical and Veterinary Diagnostic Industries and through rapid testing have helped direct clinicians to save thousands of lives.
What Do Sheep Antibody Factories Do?
Sheep antibody production companies like ours raise farm animals in order to harvest their blood and use the antibodies in serology tests for many different types of diseases which are usually caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections. Coronavirus is the latest infection where sheep may be used to raise the specific antibodies required to manufacture a robust serology test to detect the disease.
We breed our sheep for the specific purpose of antibody production. Animals with a larger frame (larger sheep breeds) and greater muscle tone are better suited to this purpose, we select for these and other qualities when breeding.
We also prioritize sheep with pronounced mothering characteristics, large peak weight breeds increase the amount of blood than can be donated which in turn leads to a reduction in the animals required for this purpose.
Reduction in animal use is a key objective of this business, Welfare is of paramount importance in this highly regulated process.
The Antibody Harvesting Process
To give rise to antibody production in a live animal, you must administer antigens in the form of the disease causing organism for which you require to build a test.
Bacterial, fungal, or viral whole cells or cell components that have been denatured or inactivated form the basis of the antigen which when presented to the animal via injection will elicit an antibody response. These types of antigens are classed as Native antigens.
In some cases, Recombinant antigens may be used, these are antigens that have been manufactured artificially in a lab to express the protein of interest.
All of these antigens are safe and present no illness in the animal. Animals are dosed with small amounts of the antigen over a period of up to 12 weeks, during this time the animal’s immune response is monitored for the presence of the specific antibody of interest.
Once the desired immune response has been achieved the animal will donate blood on a monthly basis in the same way people donate blood to blood banks.
Our breeding programmes help in two ways, firstly hybrid vigor ensures our sheep have robust immune systems which may help in their response to the antigen and secondly our animal’s large peak weight ensures larger volumes of blood can be safely donated, this reduces the animals we use by up to 30%.
Our business is carefully regulated by UK authorities. Both veterinarians and Home Office inspectors visit us to ensure that our care programmes are effective, our commitment to the welfare of the animals in our care is paramount, our goal is to ensure that animals receive the best conditions possible.
What Antibody Products Do Sheep Antibody Factories Make?
We supply the following products from the sheep on our farm:
- Naive sheep plasma
- Naive sheep serum
- Polyclonal sheep antibodies and antisera
We also supply antibody products from goats, alpacas, and rabbits.
Finding Treatments Together
In these unprecedented global circumstances, innovation in healthcare has become more important than ever. Our sheep antibody factories are working effortlessly to find a robust test for Coronavirus, as well as producing antibodies for many other common diseases that affect both man and animals.
If you have any questions about what we do, or you’d like to inquire about placing an order for one of our products, contact us today.