Thursday, May 11, 2006

Llamas, camels, and caffeine

I love this story for several reasons - one because it is so visual and interesting, and also because it is hard to imagine trying to avoid caffeine. But here's a snapshot from a press release on Eurekalert:

Three llamas and two camels have provided a way to tell whether your waiter swapped regular coffee for decaf in your after-dinner cup. Using the heat-resistant antibodies these camels and llamas make, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are developing a quick test for caffeine that works even with hot beverages.

The researchers plan to adapt their technology to a simple test ("dipstick") that can be used to check for caffeine in a variety of drinks. Their research is in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

"We believe our test would be the first consumer test for caffeine and would be beneficial for anyone wishing to avoid caffeine for health or personal reasons," says senior author Jack H. Ladenson.