At the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology of Inner Harbor in Baltimore, within the state of Maryland, blood is drawn from the caudal vein of sharks every couple of weeks.It is indispensable for further research, as it has turned out that the mini-antibodies it contains may lead to the development of medicines for cancer and many other diseases.
Similar antibodies have also been discovered in camels and llamas.Their blood is also subjected for further studies.It has been known of the existence of said mini-antibodies since the 1980's, yet it was not before 2012 when the knowledge concerning them started undergoing development, along with relevant research opportunities.Today, some scientists refer to them as nanobodies and they have the capability of penetrating deep into tissues - reaching places being inaccessible for common antibodies.
"As a biochemist, I find them exceedingly useful", Hidde Ploegh of Boston Children's Hospital says.The researcher uses the antibodies to neutralise plant viruses and label cancer cells.Similar llama-derived antibodies have recently been awarded a Nobel Prize. They will be used in the treatment of lupus, lung infections and cancer. They are likely to pave the way for new generations of drugs.