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Argonne Researchers Develop Method that Aims to Stabilize Antibodies
Date:9/3/2009

Technique could lead to improved detection, diagnostics capabilities

Argonne, IL (PRWEB) September 3, 2009 -- Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have developed a systematic method to improve the stability of antibodies. The technique could lead to better biosensors, disease therapeutics and diagnostic reagents and non-laboratory applications, including environmental remediation.

Antibodies are proteins produced by humans and animals to defend against infections; they are also used to diagnose and treat some diseases and detect toxins and pathogens. "The primary issues with antibodies is that they are fragile and short-lived outside of cooler temperature-controlled environments, making their usefulness usually limited to laboratory applications," said Argonne senior biophysicist Fred Stevens, the project's principle investigator.

Specifically, "stabilized antibodies, with full functionality, could be used in diagnostic and detection kits that can survive in less than optimal environments and be stockpiled for years at a time," Stevens said. "They could be used to combat diseases like cancer. They can also be used as the basis for biosensors that can continuously detect for pathogens like botulinum, ricin and anthrax in places such as airports and subway stations - locations where it is not currently possible to provide ongoing detection of pathogens because antibodies cannot tolerate the environmental conditions."


Argonne has provided funding toward Stevens' research. Earlier research funded by the National Institutes of Health showed that it was possible to stabilize antibodies after a team led by Stevens unexpectedly discovered that natural antibodies contain stabilizing amino acid replacements.

Antibodies are made up of four polypeptides -- two light chains and two heavy chains
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