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Synthetic molecules may be less expensive alternative to therapeutic antibodies, researchers find
Date:4/4/2008

DALLAS April 4, 2008 Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have developed a simple and inexpensive method to screen small synthetic molecules and pull out a handful that might treat cancer and other diseases less expensively than current methods.

In one screen of more than 300,000 such molecules, called peptoids, the new technique quickly singled out five promising candidates that mimicked an antibody already on the market for treating cancer. One of the compounds blocked the growth of human tumors in a mouse model.

Antibodies are molecules produced by the body to help ward off infection. Natural and manmade antibodies work by latching onto very specific targets such as receptors on the surface of cells.

Many new drugs being made today are antibodies, but they are extremely expensive to make. Financially, the U.S. health care system is going to have a difficult time accommodating the next 500 drugs being antibodies, said Dr. Thomas Kodadek, chief of translational research at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, which appears online and in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Our results show that a peptoid can attack a harmful receptor in the body with the same precision as an antibody, but would cost much less to develop, said Dr. Kodadek.

Peptoids are designed in the laboratory to resemble chains of natural molecules called peptides. Some peptides are used as medications, such as insulin or antibodies used to treat some cancers, but because the stomach digests them, most cant be taken by mouth and must be injected.

By contrast, peptoids are resistant to the stomach enzymes that degrade natural peptides, so it is possible that they could be swallowed as a pill. Peptoids are much less expensive and easier to manufacture than antibodies, Dr. Kodadek said. They are also much smaller than antibodies, so they might be better at penetrating tum
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Contact: Aline McKenzie
aline.mckenzie@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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