Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

‘Nanobodies’ herald a new era in cancer therapy

12.05.2004


Cancer, along with heart and vascular disease, is the major cause of death in the Western world. The first generation of anti-cancer drugs has already saved many lives, but because these medicines are non-specific they also often have severe side effects. Researchers at VIB (the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology) are now developing ‘nanobodies’ − a new generation of drugs consisting of extremely small antibodies that target tumour cells very specifically.



The vast majority of the current medicines for treating tumours − the so-called chemotherapeutics − are seldom specific. Indeed, because a chemotherapy treatment is not only toxic to cancer cells but to the body’s normal cells as well, patients often experience severe side effects. The VIB research team under the direction of Hilde Revets and Patrick De Baetselier (Department of Molecular and Cellular Interactions, Free University of Brussels) is searching − successfully − for new, specific, effective cancer therapies.

For several years now, the leading strategy in the treatment of cancer has been based on the production of antibodies, which are protective substances produced in the organism to defend against intruding foreign bodies − protecting us against infections arising from bacteria and viruses. Antibodies can also react with tumour-specific substances that appear only on the cancer cell membrane. These ingenious antibodies seek out and bind very specifically to the cancer cells. As a result, the tumour is removed in a highly targeted, specific manner. At the moment, ten such medicines are available to patients. But even though these antibody medicines are a good step in the right direction, there is clearly room for improvement. The antibodies that are being used are large proteins that have difficulty penetrating tumours. In addition, their complex structure makes large-scale production very difficult and expensive.


In order to cope with these problems, the VIB researchers are using camel antibodies. Extremely small compared to conventional antibodies, this unique class of antibodies has been renamed ‘nanobodies’. Having all the advantages of the conventional antibodies, nanobodies also have several more important characteristics: they are small and they keep their tumour-specific character. At the same time, they are very stable, soluble proteins that are much easier and less expensive to produce than conventional antibodies. So, researchers have recently begun to evaluate nanobodies as anti-cancer medicines. The first results look promising: in experiments conducted on mice, a tumour with a certain protein on its membrane was successfully counteracted through administration of a nanobody directed against this protein.

To translate these results into a possible application for humans, VIB is collaborating with Ablynx, a company established by VIB and GIMV in 2001 with the aim of marketing the nanobody technology. Today, Ablynx has already developed nanobodies against 16 different therapeutic targets that represent a wide range of diseases in humans. Two of these nanobodies are in the pre-clinical phase and, according to plan, will be ready to be clinically tested next year.

These recent results are a new step toward the development of medicines based on nanobodies. In addition to cancer, other life-threatening diseases − such as certain inflammatory diseases, or heart and vascular diseases − are possibly eligible for a medical treatment with nanobodies.

Ann Van Gysel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vib.be/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika

23.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>