Alpacas from a farm near Richmond are playing a key role in work to help prevent coronavirus in humans. Three Alpacas, Big Boy, Blue Eyes, and Emperor are all part of the camelid family which produces a small, unique anti-body.
University of Kentucky Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry Professor Wally Whiteheart says the nanobodies found in the Alpacas are small enough to access small areas of the coronavirus spike proteins. “The idea is you can make these as inhibitors that block function and they block the ability of the virus to get inside a cell or even bind to a cell.”
If more research and federal approval proves successful, Whiteheart envisions the ultimate protection to be found through an inhaler. The alpacas have participated in UK’s nanobody research for more than three years.
UK's Wally Whitehouse offers this full explanation of the COVID-19 related research with Richmond area alpacas: