Millennium Post

First synthetic molecules to mimic human antibodies created

Scientists have crafted the first synthetic molecules that mimic natural human antibodies and may help fight cancer, HIV and various bacterial diseases.

The new molecules - synthetic antibody mimics (SyAMs) - attach themselves simultaneously to disease cells and disease-fighting cells. The result is a highly targeted immune response, similar to the action of natural human antibodies. "Unlike antibodies, however, our molecules are synthetic organic compounds that are approximately one-twentieth the size of antibodies," said David A Spiegel, a professor of chemistry at the Yale University in US.

"They are unlikely to cause unwanted immune reactions due to their structure, are thermally stable, and have the potential to be administered orally, just like traditional, small-molecule drugs," said Spiegel. Researchers looked specifically at SyAM molecules used to attack prostate cancer. Called SyAM-Ps, they work first by recognising cancer cells and binding with a specific protein on their surface.

Next, they also bind with a receptor on an immune cell. This induces a targeted response that leads to the destruction of the cancer cell. Spiegel said the process of synthesising and optimising the structure of the molecules required considerable time and effort.


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