In an article published today in Science, a multidisciplinary research team from more than 10 universities and research institutes outlines how integrating a more diverse set of species and environments could enhance the biomedical research cycle.
The viruses that cause COVID-19, AIDS, Ebola, and rabies - among others - all made the lethal jump from wildlife into humans.
Understanding how the immune system works in animals that live with coronaviruses in a natural environment, such as bats, can give us direction for developing treatments and vaccines to protect humans from viruses.
Modern research relies heavily on mouse experiments in laboratory settings, which limits the scope for this type of ground-breaking discovery.
For example, a new class of antibodies, often referred to as nanobodies, was discovered in camels. Easier and faster to make than traditional antibodies used in biomedicine, camel-derived nanobodies are playing an import role in biomedical research, including the global COVID-19 response.
This shows how stepping out of the lab and studying new species can yield large long-term payoffs.
“We are really excited to see how our initial group discussions held at the first Australian Wild and Comparative Immunology (WACI) workshop led to publishing a Perspective article in a world leading journal”, said co-author Dr Jerome Le Nours, from the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University, who was co-organiser of the WACI meeting.
To read the full article, click here.