Irish scientist optimistic alpaca can be ally in in fight against Covid-19 | #students | #parents

The South American alpaca may seem like an unlikely ally in humanity’s fight to overcome the coronavirus, but an Irish scientist believes the mammal is key to developing an effective treatment against the disease.

Dr Peter Durcan, who is based in Cape Town, South Africa, has spent the last year investigating whether alpaca antibodies, produced by its immune system to fight off infections, can be used to treat people with Covid-19.

Despite having to overcome pandemic-related logistical challenges to get his project off the ground, Durcan says recent laboratory test results involving the UK and South African Covid variants have given huge cause for optimism.

“We have received results from two different labs that show some of our alpaca antibodies are very potent at neutralising both Covid-19 variants,” he said.

“Based on this, we believe they hold out great promise as potential therapeutic treatments, particularly in the context of the current vaccine delays.”

Dr Peter Durcan, founder and chief scientific officer of Afrobodies at his lab in Cape Town with his business partner and wife Benedicta: promising results.

Durcan’s journey of discovery began shortly after the pandemic began early last year, when he and business partner Benedicta, who is also his wife, hit upon the idea of starting an immunisation programme using their alpacas to develop antibodies that could neutralise the virus.

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