Science The immune system of the alpaca reveals a potential treatment for cancer

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    The natural world often provides the answer to unsolved medical problems. On this occasion, the solution to a challenge posed by cancer has come about from the immune system of camelids. A study headed by the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), in Belgium, describes a number of therapeutic tools that have the capacity to block the activity of EGF, a growth factor that is dysregulated in cancer cells.

    EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor) is a therapeutic target in cancer; however, no inhibitors have been found for it to date. The team of researchers is the first to identify a family of nanobodies—antibodies that are exclusive to camelids—derived from alpacas that are effective against EGF. In this regard, they have described the molecular mechanisms underlying the affinity and selectivity of these nanobodies in an article published in the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie.

    "In spite of advances in treatments against the EGR receptor (EGFR) in patients, their efficacy decreases over time because patients develop resistance," explain Monica Varese and Salvador Guardiola, co-authors of the study and postdoctoral researchers at IRB Barcelona. "By taking advantage of an emerging biotech tool, nanobodies, we have been able to synthesise the first inhibitors with high affinity for EGF," they say.

    IRB Barcelona produced the EGF protein and their Belgian colleagues administered it to alpacas. The immune response of these animals to this strange antigen produced a series of nanobodies, and the researchers identified a family of these molecules as potential inhibitors of EGF. The IRB Barcelona team, which has extensive expertise in molecular recognition between proteins, observed that some of the ligands showed high affinity and selectivity towards EGF, and, using a range of biophysical techniques, they characterized the interactions in cells in vitro and in human cancer cells.


    Read more here. (Institute of Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona)
     

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