Llama antibodies may hold key to coronavirus treatment, research shows

CORONAVIRUS DEVELOPMENTS: Summer may slow spread; llama antibodies could hold key to a cure; and cancer screenings being neglected during pandemic.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With the approach of summer, some experts say the spread of coronavirus may slow down a bit - but that doesn't mean we should abandon social distancing and go back to business as usual.

Dr. Anthony Cardillo, ER specialist and CEO of Mend Urgent Care, talked to ABC7 via Skype to discuss expectations for this summer.

Cardillo also addressed topics that include the potential use of research on llamas to help develop a treatment for COVID-19 and why the pandemic may lead to increased cancer risks.

Summer slowdown
During summer, Cardillo noted, people tend to be outside more rather than cooped up in confined spaces with others. That is likely to reduce the person-to-person contact that can spread coronavirus. Additionally, he noted that sunlight and ultraviolet radiation are effective at killing the virus, meaning it will not live as long on outdoor surfaces such as car door handles.

Still, he cautioned, that doesn't mean that restrictions on activities can be lifted at this point.

"We can't take this and say oh because of this now we can decrease social distancing. We have to still be mindful as always."

Cancer screening
Because of the pandemic, many people have been putting off regular doctor visits - and that includes routine screenings for many types of cancers, like mammograms, pap smears and colonoscopies. A new study estimates that thousands of potential cancer cases may not be caught early because of postponed screenings.

"We've been closed for two months now, so thats over 15% of the year," Cardillo said. "Just imagine missing 15% of all of those cancers for the year. This is devastating for the health system."

He urged anyone who is in the proper age range to make an appointment with their primary care doctor to get a cancer screening.

"A lot of cancers are lurking out there that we did not pick up," he said.

Llama cure?
In the past, scientists have examined how different animal species respond to various strains of virus.

Researchers discovered that the immune systems of llamas mount an aggressive defense against SARS, which is a different type of coronavirus. Now, new research is indicating that they may also be resistant to COVID-19. That opens up a new avenue of research for potential treatments.

"Believe it or not there's some indication that their antibodies are allowing for the destruction of the coronavirus," Cardillo said. "So it's hopeful. If we can take that antibody and make it useful in the human population that's going to be a big step for us."
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