Scientists have developed a ‘nanobody’ – a small fragment of a llama antibody – that is capable of chasing out human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) as it hides away from the immune system.
Scientists have developed a ‘nanobody’ – a small fragment of a llama antibody – that is capable of chasing out human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) as it hides away from the immune system. This then enables immune cells to seek out and destroy this potentially deadly virus.
Around four out of five people in the UK are thought to be infected with HCMV, and in developing countries this can be as high as 95%. For the majority of people, the virus remains dormant, hidden away inside white blood cells, where it can remain undisturbed and undetected for decades. If the virus reactivates in a healthy individual, it does not usually cause symptoms. However, for people who are immunocompromised – for example, transplant recipients who need to take immunosuppressant drugs to prevent organ rejection – HCMV reactivation can be devastating.
At present, there is no effective vaccine against HCMV, and anti-viral drugs often prove ineffective or have very serious side-effects.
Now, in a study published in Nature Communications, researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands and at the University of Cambridge have found a way to chase the virus from its hiding place using a special type of antibody known as a nanobody.
Read more at University of Cambridge
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