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Half an antibody: better than one?

Half an antibody: Better than one?

Researchers at Genex corporation have engineered an unconventional antibody that is structurally simpler than naturally occurring antibodies. Instead of a mirror-image pairing of two light and two heavy chains, the new formulation has just the "business ends" of one light and one heavy chain. The scientists stabilized the molecule by inserting a gene for a protein link between the chains, producing one continuous proten. According to researcher Robert Bird of the Gaithersburg, Md.-based company, recent tests show this "single-chain antibody" binds specifically to its antigen.

Once the technology matures, Bird says, it may hold some advantages over monoclonal antibodies (MABs). Production of these smaller units, by bacterial fermentation, should be much cheaper than the cell culture used for MABs, according to Bird, and because the new antibodies have just one chain, they should be less prone than MABs to be knocked off affinity columns during protein separations. The new antibody may also prove less problematic in long-term immunotherapy, Bird says, because it would present a smaller target for the host's immune system.
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Title Annotation:biotechnology product
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 4, 1986
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