Cancer drugs from camel antibodies

Related tags Antibody

Researchers in Belgium have developed a new generation of drugs
consisting of extremely small antibodies - called nanobodies - that
can target tumour cells specifically and seem suitable for oral
delivery.

The research team from the Flander Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), led by Hilde Revets and Patrick De Baetselier of the Free University of Brussels, say that the small antibodies can overcome the delivery problems associated with current antibody-based therapies, which must be delivered by injection.

"At the moment, 10 [antibody-based] 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,"​ accordng to the research team.

Because they are large molecules, current antibodies have difficulty penetrating tumours and 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, which are much smaller than human antibodies. And aside from their small size, these nanobodies are very stable, soluble proteins that are much easier and less expensive to produce than conventional antibodies.

Initial results using nanobodies directed against tumours look promising. In experiments conducted on mice, a tumour with a marker protein on its membrane was successfully treated through administration of a nanobody directed against this protein.

The nanobody technology is being taken through to commercialisation by Ablynx​, a company established by the VIB and and venture capital firm GIMV in 2001. 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 preclinical testing and, according to plan, will be ready to be clinically tested next year.

Related topics Preclinical Research

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