Scientists Treat COVID in Hamsters With Internal Nanobodies: A Study

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, USA, said in a recent paper that they had made “effective, low-cost interventions” to prevent coronavirus infection (COVID-19) in Syrian hamsters.

The treatment, called Pittsburgh which can be bypassed by Nanobody 21 (PiN-21), could provide a needle-free alternative to monoclonal antibody in the treatment of early infections.


The nanobody is given directly through the nose or by inhalation, the researchers said. However, the question remains as to whether this treatment could work for people.

Published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, the paper said the intranasal delivery of PiN-21 at 0.6 mg / kg protects infected animals (Syrian hamsters) from weight loss and significantly reduces viral load in the lower and upper airways.

Researchers say that their treatment may provide an easy and cost-effective option to reduce the ongoing epidemic.

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Significantly, they added, PiN-21 aerosols can be inhaled to identify respiratory infections that significantly reduce viral load and prevent lung damage and viral pneumonia.

To test the effectiveness of PiN-21, twelve hamsters were divided into two groups and infected with coronavirus by intratracheal route.

Shortly after infection, the nanobody was delivered intranasally at a dose of approximately 0.6 mg / kg. Scientists then looked at these animals daily for weight changes and symptoms.

Hamsters have shown rapid weight loss, up to 16% of their initial body weight, after a week of infection. However, the simultaneous introduction of PiN-21 into the nose eliminated any weight loss in infected animals.

“We are very pleased and encouraged by our data which shows that PiN-21 can be very protective against serious diseases and can prevent the transmission of HIV from person to person,” Yi Shi, a paper author and assistant professor of cell biology at the University of Pittsburgh, told Science Daily website.

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Researchers have added that nanobodies and vaccines are not competitive and are compatible.

Vaccines can prevent new cases, but nanobodies can be used to treat those who are already ill and those who are unable to vaccinate for other medical reasons.


COVID-19 is now the leading disease of the 21st century. Bringing direct treatment to the lungs could make a huge difference in our ability to treat it,” Doug Reed, a pseudonym author and research professor of immunology in varsity, told the website.

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