Alpacas can stop the growth of cancer

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.- Researchers knew that alpacas carry a special protein in their cells that stops the growth of cancer, but they never knew how to test the cells.

Elaine Painter, the owner of Alize and Fuzzy Alpaca Farm, says, “We’ve known for years that their blood cells are a little different from than lots of other animals. Several of the automatic test machines do not read them well, so that we know that they are special to start with.”

Now, the University of Kentucky created a tool to help understand the the alpacas and their reaction to the test.

“We made proteins, a little small molecule of the thing that we wanted to study. Then we gave it to the genetic technology core, and they injected into the alpacas. The alpacas had and immune response to generate the nanobody,” according to Jessica Blackburn an Associate Professor at University of Kentucky.

Very few animals contain the same genes as alpacas. The alpacas nanobodies are 10 times smaller than regular antibodies.

“It’s really exciting to be involved in something that has the potential to move from my lab and the alpacas over to the clinic and that could impact peoples lives,” says Jessica Blackburn, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky.

The research being done now will soon impact so many people’s lives in a positive way.

Painter also says, “The fact that we can do this with miraculous medicine and help people with incurable and hard to cure diseases, I think is wonderful.”

To learn more information about the alpacas and their nanobodies visit