While the use of llama antibodies in biobased applications is not new, Biotalys is the first in the world to use the technology on plants. The biotech company from Flanders will produce ‘agrobodies’ from llama antibodies that protect crops against diseases and fungi. As it happens, Biotalys’ corporate neighbors Sanofi and ArgenX are using of the same technology for the creation of human medication, and llama antibodies are currently also being used in Flanders in the quest for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“In our lab, we first select the t-cells from which we retrieve the antibodies. Contrary to GMOs, we work on the outside of the cell. Afterwards, we test our ‘agrobodies’ in a test tube on plants. Field trials remain crucial, because while a pesticide can function perfectly in the lab, it can lose its properties when used on the field,” comments Hilde Revets, chief science officer at Biotalys.