Llama antibodies may fight off botulinum neurotoxins

Scientists recently found that antibodies from llamas may be able to fight off seven different kinds of botulinum neurotoxins.

Researchers from the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research discovered that the llama antibodies, called single domain antibodies (sdAb), or nanobodies, differ greatly from those found in humans and may aid the human body in neutralizing the only toxins found on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's list of top bioterror threats, according to MNN.com.

Nanobodies are known predominantly for their molecular flexibility, according to Dr. Andrew Hayhurst, a virologist at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research.

"As such, sdAb may allow biosensors to be regenerable and used over and over without loss of activity. Also, for some types of BoNT, conventional antibodies are not generally available and we are filling this biosecurity gap," Hayhurst said, MNN.com reports. "We not only aim to use the antibodies in BoNT detection tests, but also to understand how they bind and inhibit these fascinating molecules."

The facility's researchers not only hope to use the llama antibodies to fight terrorism, they also hope to use them to develop future anti-botulism treatments. Meanwhile, Hayhurst and his team are continuing their research into why certain llama antibodies inhibit toxins, according to MNN.com.