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Researchers design Alzheimer's antibodies
Date:12/9/2011

Troy, N.Y. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new method to design antibodies aimed at combating disease. The surprisingly simple process was used to make antibodies that neutralize the harmful protein particles that lead to Alzheimer's disease.

The process is reported in the Dec. 5 Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The process, outlined in the paper, titled "Structure-based design of conformation- and sequence-specific antibodies against amyloid β," could be used as a tool to understand complex disease pathology and develop new antibody-based drugs in the future.

Antibodies are large proteins produced by the immune system to combat infection and disease. They are comprised of a large Y-shaped protein topped with small peptide loops. These loops bind to harmful invaders in the body, such as a viruses or bacteria. Once an antibody is bound to its target, the immune system sends cells to destroy the invader. Finding the right antibody can determine the difference between death and recovery.

Scientists have long sought methods for designing antibodies to combat specific ailments. However, the incredible complexity of designing antibodies that only attached to a target molecule of interest has prevented scientists from realizing this ambitious goal.

When trying to design an antibody, the arrangement and sequence of the antibody loops is of utmost importance. Only a very specific combination of antibody loops will bind to and neutralize each target. And with billions of different possible loop arrangements and sequences, it is seemingly impossible to predict which antibody loops will bind to a specific target molecule.

The new antibody design process was used to create antibodies that target a devastating molecule in the body: the Alzheimer's protein. The research, which was led by Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineeri
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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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