Antigens in the form of viruses and bacteria have been used for decades to create antibodies to develop tests for many deadly diseases. Could sheep antibodies help understand COVID-19? According to recent studies, sheep may be providing some vital clues.

From how the virus works to the importance of proteins, we’ll go over everything you need to know about sheep antibodies and COVID-19. Let’s break it down.

The Studies

SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that is responsible for COVID-19. This virus infects the respiratory system and can cause a deadly immune reaction if it gets into the lungs. This reaction can sometimes lead to pneumonia or even death.

A recent study by the University of Dundee has looked into the effects of sheep antibodies as a treatment for COVID-19. 

These studies have shown that the 28 proteins that are created by SARS-CoV-2 are the ones responsible for the immune response. It’s imperative that these proteins are studied in order for us to understand how the virus attacks the body.

In this study, there are approximately 20 researchers who specialise in antibody production, molecular biology, genetic sequencing, and protein sciences. There are also farmworkers, and technicians on hand to help prepare the antibodies that are harvested.

Sheep Antibodies vs. Coronavirus

In these recent studies, proteins are introduced to a control group of sheep so that they can produce helpful antibodies to fight the research war against the virus. The proteins that the sheep produce are then harvested every few weeks. These high-quality procedures are non-invasive, painless for the sheep, and under the strict control of The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA).

The harvested proteins are helping researchers understand the novel coronavirus. Why the sheep antibodies have been so helpful in fighting against COVID-19 is that the antibodies they produce will help scientists understand the virus which will help create robust diagnostic tests and may lead to some clues on how to improve treatments.

The sheep antibodies are bound tightly to the proteins presented by the virus. These antibodies don’t recognise any other proteins regularly found in our bodies. You can think of this process as a puzzle. Only one piece will fit uniquely into the lock in the same way a key opens a door.

Sheep Antibodies Advantages

The antibodies produced by the sheep could prove vital to solving the COVID-19 testing conundrum. The rapid tests that are currently used to identify the COVID-19 virus work to identify the presence of the protein in a blood sample, for example. 

The proteins that end up in the blood sample plate will be identified by the sheep antibodies. The antibodies stick to the proteins and recognise the virus. The sheep antibodies allow scientists to target COVID-19.

During the testing process, the sample is put into a test plate. The sheep antibodies then get run over the plate sample. When the antibodies recognise the virus, and it can be pulled out of the test plate. When a second antibody is put into the plate with a fluorescent marker, the plate will glow after it’s washed if the virus is present.

COVID-19 Basics

The most important part of this study is that it helps us understand the basic biological make-up of the COVID-19 virus. This is a crucial part of defeating it. We can use the antibodies to secure the virus using system models. These models include cell sorting which separates healthy cells from the virus-carrying cells.

In particular, researchers hope to pull out certain parts of the virus that are the most dangerous. How the virus infects and attacks the lungs, for example, is the biggest threat. Typically, those infected with COVID-19 experience symptoms including fever, cough, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, congestion, and shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.

While many people who contract COVID-19 suffer mild symptoms, including fever and cough, others are in need of life-saving measures, hospitalization, and ventilation. One of the keys researchers need to unlock is disserting between these various proteins.

Are Sheep Antibodies the Answer?

Sheep antibodies being harvested by researchers could be the key to unlocking a life-saving test for COVID-19. These antibodies find the virus causing proteins in the body and attach themselves to it.

Most importantly, we can use these antibodies to develop tests to detect the viral proteins responsible for this deadly disease. COVID-19 symptoms include lung damage and respiratory problems which can cause an infected person to need a ventilator.

The potentially life-saving antibodies harvested in these studies are being sent to labs worldwide to help in the fight against COVID-19.

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