[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 24 April, 2004, 23:06 GMT 00:06 UK
Super-antibodies to fight disease
HIV
Super-antibodies could tackle HIV
Scientists are developing super-antibodies which would go right inside cells to attack bacteria and viruses.

The Canadian team believe the advance could lead to a new range of treatments, New Scientist reports.

The super-antibodies may be able to target bacteria and viruses, including HIV, inside affected cells.

The downside is that antibodies have to be injected as they do not survive in the stomach, and experts said they are hard to develop.

The theory is that they could do more than the small molecules of most conventional drugs.

A cell-penetrating super-antibody would be highly discriminating, and because it can be far more specific than small-molecule drugs, and is not inherently toxic, it should have fewer side-effects.

Most good targets for diseases are inside cells
Charles Morgan
InNexus Biotechnology, of Vancouver, Canada, which is developing the technology, said a simple chemical modification allows an antibody to move in and out of cells until it finds its target.

This modification is a short protein segment, normally found in signalling proteins such as growth factors that can enter cells.

Accumulates

Experiments showed the super-antibody enters all cells but only accumulates in those containing its target.

Charles Morgan, president of the company, said: "Most good targets for diseases are inside cells."

However, Andrew Bradbury, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said: "A lot of work has been done trying to make antibodies that are stable in cells.

"But it's proved far more difficult than expected."

And Dr Richard Pleass, an expert in therapeutic antibodies for malaria at the University of Nottingham, said experts would urge caution on super-antibodies.

He said: "There are far too many questions - how are they going to work? What is the killer mechanism?

"I don't realistically think there is a future in them."

He said that around 30% of all drugs currently being trialled are antibody based and that the market would be worth US$15 billion by 2005.




SEE ALSO:
Antibodies tackle vCJD
02 Jun 03  |  Health
New weapon in superbug war
28 Apr 04  |  Health


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific