The alpaca’s immune system produces a unique type of antibody that could direct scientists towards a new cancer treatment
Recent study reported that animals produce unique nanobodies that can be utilized for treatment of cancer. The study was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie in October 2018. High concentration of Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) is associated with a number of cancers and researchers analyzed several ways to block its expression. The new research harnessed the unique immune systems of alpacas to produce a novel molecule that could be adapted into a therapeutic treatment.
Alpacas can naturally produce single-domain antibodies. These are much smaller than common antibodies and are often referred to as nanobodies. These are promising an exciting new future in drug treatment, which is cheap and easier to mass produce than conventional monoclonal antibodies. As a part of the study, researchers established that these unique nanobodies are an effective EGF inhibitor. The next stage is extensive study to find out whether these nanobodies actually have a pharmacological effect in animal models of cancer. It may be early days for the work but it lays the foundation for exciting study into a new generation of cancer treatment.
Previous studies reported that alpaca antibodies may provide entirely new blueprints for scientists. However, further work is required before delivering an effective human therapeutic treatment. However, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to think that in ten or twenty years we may have a potent cancer treatment inspired by the immune systems of the curious spitting alpaca.