Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 13, 2006

Llama blood vs. bioterrorism?

Filed under: Biosecurity — by Christian Beckner on December 13, 2006

This story sounds like something out of an ancient Incan ritual:

If terrorists ever unleashed a biological weapon, unusual molecules normally found in the blood of llamas could quickly help warn of the attack, scientists now report.

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington and their colleagues experimented with antibodies, which act as the red flags and magic bullets of the body’s personal defense arsenal.

….The researchers generated more than a billion kinds of antibody binding regions in the laboratory based on genes taken from small blood samples from llamas. After testing their antibodies against various biological threats, the researchers found they could within days successfully identify antibodies targeting cholera toxin, a smallpox virus surrogate and ricin, among other known menaces.

The article should be appearing here in the next day or so.

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