In recent years, therapeutic antibodies have revolutionized the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. Currently, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed a new and efficient method based on the gene scissors CRISPR-Cas9 that facilitates antibody development.The discovery is published at Nature Communications..
Antibody drugs are the fastest growing class of drugs, and several therapeutic antibodies are used to treat cancer. They are effective, often have few side effects, and benefit from the body’s own immune system by identifying foreign bodies in the body. Antibodies can activate the immune system or self-destruct cells by binding to specific target molecules on the cell.
However, most antibody drugs in use today are developed against preselected antibody targets. This approach is limited by the cancer knowledge we have today, limiting the discovery of new drugs to currently known targets.
Jenny Mattson, a PhD student at Lund University School of Blood Transfusion Medicine, said:
Another route that pharmaceutical companies want to withdraw is to search for antibodies to cancer cells, without being limited to pre-specified target molecules. In this way, new and unexpected target molecules can be identified. The problem is that this method (so-called “phenotypic antibody development”) requires the target molecule to be identified at a later stage. This has been technically difficult and time consuming.
“Using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene scissors, we were able to quickly identify 38 target molecules out of 39 test antibodies. I was convinced that this method would work, but the results were I was surprised at how accurate it was. With previous methods, it was difficult to find the target molecule with a single antibody, “says Jenny Mattson.
This research project is a collaboration between Lund University, BioInvent International, and the Strategic Research Foundation. The researcher’s method has already been put to practical use in an ongoing research project at BioInvent.
“We believe this method can help antibody developers and contribute to the development of new antibody-based drugs in the future,” concludes Professor Bjorn Nilsson, who led the project.
Materials provided by Lund University.. Note: The content can be edited in style and length.