Normally, when we test treatments for diseases, we use animals to see any adverse effects, so human testing can then proceed. However, when looking for COVID-19 antibodies, there is a small slice of animal science that could prove useful for medical researchers looking for a solution to the pandemic.
Human bodies respond to diseases with the help of antibodies, which are blood proteins produced by the human immune system. COVID-19 antibody tests, which are also called serological tests, try to identify antibodies as a way to see if a person has been infected with SARS-CoB-2. Unfortunately, tests are not yet capable of finding out whether a person developed an immunity to the virus.
Looking into the antibodies of people that have recovered from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus helps researchers develop medication that can be given to humans as assistance to fight off the disease. In the long road towards improved treatment, researchers rely on animals to deliver better therapy with antibodies.
Animal research, in the context of antibodies, takes various forms. Sometimes, animals, usually cows, help scientists grow the actual human antibodies, which are then used for treatment on humans. Research performed into the unique antibodies of animals, however, assists scientists in getting a better understanding of the inner workings of the human immune system.
The main difference between these last two is that growing human antibodies brings immediate improvements to treating people with COVID-19 or who are exposed to it, while the latter focuses on long-term developments.
It is heifers that are now helping humans grow additional antibodies. When creating new antibody-based treatments, researchers first have to get a sample of the antibodies from an infected person. Scientists then look through the sample for effective antibodies and then resort to a bioreactor to produce more of these disease-fighting proteins.