Alpacas produce unique antibodies called nanobodies that are extremely robust and stable molecules that bind to specific targets. Alpacas are among only a handful of animals that produce single-domain antibodies as part of their immune system. Scientists find these nanobodies appealing because they are easier and cheaper to mass-produce and provide new options to treat diseases.
A team of scientists from Germany’s University of Bonn and Brazil’s University of São Paulo tapped into this unique immune system of alpacas to mitigate chronic inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis.
Researchers at the Universities of Bonn and Sao Paulo have succeeded in mitigating chronic inflammation in mice using customized “mini-antibodies.”
The nanobodies from Alpaca enabled them to neutralize the alarm system that normally activates the immune system when it senses an attack from a pathogen. By doing so, the scientists successfully treated excessive inflammation in unhealthy mice.
“The mice in our experiments have rheumatoid (arthritis) and gout-like symptoms,” said study author Dr. Damien Bertheloot. “After administration of the nanobody, the inflammation and also the general health of the rodents improved significantly.”
In the future, this research could help to slow down unwanted inflammatory reactions that cause diseases such as arthritis or play a role in treating or preventing neurological conditions.