Man-made antibodies show promise in attacking cancer cells in animal models
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DURHAM, N.C. — Using chemotherapy along with aptamers – lab-made molecules that function like antibodies — Duke Health researchers showed that they can zero in on and kill prostate cancer tumors in mice while leaving healthy tissue unscathed.

The finding suggests that aptamers could form the basis of new cancer therapies if additional studies in animals and humans bear out.

“The benefit of aptamers compared to antibodies is that we have more control over where they go and what they do,” said senior author Bruce Sullenger, Ph.D., professor in the departments of Surgery and Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke. “In our study, we also developed an antidote that shuts down the aptamer almost immediately, and this is an advantage if, for whatever reason, there might be an adverse reaction.”

Sullenger and colleagues — including lead author Bethany Powell Gray, Ph.D., and co-author Linsley Kelly, Ph.D. — published their findings online during the week of April 16 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Man-made aptamers can be created to target cancer cells, much like the body’s naturally generated antibodies home in on pathogens such as viruses or bacteria. Recent drug advances have used antibodies in

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