Sharks may offer hope in fending off future coronavirus outbreaks because their immune systems have unique antibody-like proteins called VNARs that can prevent the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants from infecting human cells, researchers say. The findings have so far only been seen in the lab and VNAR treatments have not yet been tested in humans. The researchers tested shark VNARs against both infectious SARS-CoV-2 and a version of the virus that can’t replicate in cells, and from a pool of billions, identified three candidate VNARs. “What we’re doing is preparing an arsenal of shark VNAR therapeutics that could be used down the road for future SARS outbreaks," says Aaron LeBeau. His lab at the University of Wisconsin–Madison collaborated with researchers at the University of Minnesota and Elasmogen, a Scottish biomedical company that is developing therapeutic VNARs.

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