Researchers are exploring how these furry animals can help us better understand how to fight off the flu.
Why llamas? The South American animals have smaller antibodies (which protect against viruses) than humans. Because they’re smaller, they’re able to reach parts of the flu virus that bulkier human antibodies can’t.
Using llama antibodies in mice, researchers are testing how new gene therapies, specifically a “gene mist,” may fend off a range of flu viruses better than other methods.
NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D, discusses this early research in a post on his Director’s Blog.