Llamas are good for….making sweaters, (“Is that REAL llama wool?”), filling exotic photos, and we weren’t really sure what else. Until now.
A recent article on BBC.com reports that the furry creatures could hold the key to curing that dreaded winter sickness: the flu.
Llamas, it states, have been used to produce a new antibody therapy that is miraculous. It has the potential to fight off all types of flu, and even new pandemics.
Llama antibodies are tiny compared with our own. Scientists have found that they can dive a bit deeper in their attack on the flu. This allows the llama antibodies to get at flu viruses on a level that human antibodies can’t, effectively getting at the parts of the flu virus that doesn’t change.
Human antibodies simply attack the surface tips of the flu protein. This is the part that can mutate easily, and it’s because of this that it’s hard to develop a foolproof flu vaccine each season. The shapeshifting abilities of the flu virus often leave us stumped. And sick, yet again.
Prof Jonathan Ball, from the University of Nottingham, told the BBC:
“Having a treatment that can work across a range of different strains of virus is highly sought after. It’s the Holy Grail of influenza”.
Of course, work is yet to be done. And whether or not a llama-inspired flu shot will be available readily to everyone remains to be seen, as it could be costly. But it’s good to know that nature, at least this time, is on our side.
Photo credits: Kellen Slight/Shutterstock.com