There’s a medical research project that needs help? Alpaca my bags!
Let me explain. Researchers at Vanderbilt University have been looking at the unusual immune system of these fuzzy dromedaries.
Alpaca antibodies are not only effective, they’re also easier to harvest than most other animals’ antibodies, so they could help develop ways to treat or regulate some rare but serious diseases in humans.
A new drug treating a rare blood disease came out last year thanks to alpacas, and there may be more on the way.
The researchers may be able to use these antibodies to deal with an enzyme that’s been linked to several forms of cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s disease and some parts of the autism spectrum.
The alpacas just give a blood sample here and there. Otherwise they’re free to do alpaca stuff. And when they get sheared, the fur ends up in hats for cancer patients to wear while they’re in chemotherapy.
I’m not saying our entire medical system will end up being alpaca-based, but wouldn’t it be adorable if it was?
We’re getting closer to peak alpaca outside medicine, too. Alpaca yoga is modeled after the very successful world of goat yoga, with a change of animal of course.
As the Nashville Tennesseean wrote about a recent class near them, “The human participants lunged, raised their hands to the sky and focused on their breathing. The animals moseyed around and oversaw the proceedings.”
Meet the alpacas that are helping researchers who study autism, Alzheimer’s and cancer (Vanderbilt University)
Alpacas steal show at free yoga class hosted by Alpaca Owners Association (Nashville Tennesseean)
Alpacas photo by Diane Hamilton via Flickr/Creative Commons