Michael Josem looking at an alpaca

Most mammals share significant parts of our evolved immune system responses – the antibodies in our bodies are, of course, different, but there is some similarity across different families of living creatures. Alpacas (and camelids in general) appear to have evolved a valuably different mechanism – and new research from the USA is using this to fight against some cancers:

Scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—with some assistance from alpacas—have devised a way to break through [the barrier of some solid cancer tumours]. Using “nanobodies” inspired by a type of antibody found in alpacas, the team built CAR-T cells that can recognize specific proteins that protect tumors. They described their work in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bringing CAR-T cancer treatments to solid tumors with help from alpacas