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Nanobodies Possibly Prevent Deadly Post-Transplant Infection

Scientists have developed a nanobody that is capable of recognizing 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.

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands and at the University of Cambridge have developed nanobodies that target a specific virus protein (US28), one of the few elements detectable on the surface of a HCMV latently infected cell and a main driver of this latent state.

In laboratory experiments using blood infected with the virus, the team showed that the nanobody binds to the US28 protein and interrupts the signals established through the protein that help keep the virus in its dormant state. Once this control is broken, the local immune cells are able to 'see' that the cell is infected, enabling the host's immune cells to hunt down and kill the virus, purging the latent reservoir and clearing the blood of the virus.


1.) University of Cambridge. "Llama 'nanobodies' could hold key to preventing deadly post-transplant infection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2021. <>.

2.) Timo W. M. De Groof, Elizabeth G. Elder, Eleanor Y. Lim, Raimond Heukers, Nick D. Bergkamp, Ian J. Groves, Mark Wills, John H. Sinclair, Martine J. Smit. Targeting the latent human cytomegalovirus reservoir for T-cell-mediated killing with virus-specific nanobodies. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-24608-5

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