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Scripps Research scientists devise powerful new method for finding therapeutic antibodies
Date:9/11/2012

LA JOLLA, CA, September 11, 2012 Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found a new technique that should greatly speed the discovery of medically and scientifically useful antibodies, immune system proteins that detect and destroy invaders such as bacteria and viruses. New methods to discover antibodies are important because antibodies make up the fastest growing sector of human therapeutics; it is estimated that by 2014 the top-three selling drugs worldwide will be antibodies.

The new technique, described in an article this week published online ahead of print by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, enables researchers to search large libraries of antibodies and quickly select the ones with a desired biological effect. It also provides for the creation of unusual, asymmetric antibodies whose capabilities extend beyond those of natural antibodies. The Scripps Research scientists demonstrated the power of the technique by using it to find an asymmetric antibody that almost perfectly mimics the activity of erythropoietin (EPO), a medically valuable hormone.

"Traditionally we've looked at antibodies as tools for binding to specific targets, but we should view them more generally, as tools for probing and altering functions in cells," said Richard Lerner, the Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Immunochemistry and member of the Department of Molecular Biology at Scripps Research who led the new study.

At the Vanguard

Lab-grown antibodies already represent a major part of the ongoing biotechnology revolution. Used as scientific probes or medical therapies, they recreate the versatility of natural antibodies, which are produced by immune cells in a vast diversity to bind to highly specific shapes on viruses, bacteria, and other targets.

Two decades ago, Lerner and his laboratory at Scripps Research, in parallel with the group of Sir Gregory Winter at the Laboratory of Mo
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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