Health Watch: Alpacas showing big value to medicine

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Alpacas may be coveted for their wool and maybe their personalities.

But according to some researchers, what's in their blood may prove to be more valuable.

"Turns out that alpacas and other members of the camel family, old-world camels and llamas, have a very unique form of antibody," says Associate Professor of Pharmacology Brian Wadzinski, Ph.D.

They have a heavy-chain-only antibody, which means it is easier to extract and isolate a fragment of that antibody.

"It sort of enables the study of new diseases as they are being understood to be related to specific mutations," says Associate Professor of Pharmacology Benjamin Spiller, Ph.D.

Such as Jordan's Syndrome, which affects about 100 kids worldwide. The team is using the alpaca antibodies to visualize and potentially regulate the gene product PPP2R5D, which is linked to the condition.

"Patients that have this syndrome known as Jordan's Syndrome, they are characterized both with intellectual disability, a large head, low muscle tone," Wadzinski said.

The same gene that is linked to Jordan's Syndrome is also linked to Autism, Alzheimer's, and some forms of cancers.

"A plethora of different tools to be able to study," Wadzinski said. "This will increase our understanding and hopefully pave the way for the future development of treatments."
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