Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Synthetic Molecules May Be Less Expensive Alternative To Therapeutic Antibodies, Researchers Find

Date:
April 8, 2008
Source:
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers have developed a simple and inexpensive method to screen small synthetic molecules and pull out a handful that might treat cancer and other diseases less expensively than current methods.

Dr. Thomas Kodadek, chief of translational research, led researchers who have developed a simple and inexpensive method to screen small synthetic molecules and pull out a handful that might treat cancer and other diseases.
Credit: Image courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have developed a simple and inexpensive method to screen small synthetic molecules and pull out a handful that might treat cancer and other diseases less expensively than current methods.

Related Articles


In one screen of more than 300,000 such molecules, called peptoids, the new technique quickly singled out five promising candidates that mimicked an antibody already on the market for treating cancer. One of the compounds blocked the growth of human tumors in a mouse model.

Antibodies are molecules produced by the body to help ward off infection. Natural and manmade antibodies work by latching onto very specific targets such as receptors on the surface of cells.

"Many new drugs being made today are antibodies, but they are extremely expensive to make. Financially, the U.S. health care system is going to have a difficult time accommodating the next 500 drugs being antibodies," said Dr. Thomas Kodadek, chief of translational research at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, which appears online and in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"Our results show that a peptoid can attack a harmful receptor in the body with the same precision as an antibody, but would cost much less to develop," said Dr. Kodadek.

Peptoids are designed in the laboratory to resemble chains of natural molecules called peptides. Some peptides are used as medications, such as insulin or antibodies used to treat some cancers, but because the stomach digests them, most can't be taken by mouth and must be injected.

By contrast, peptoids are resistant to the stomach enzymes that degrade natural peptides, so it is possible that they could be swallowed as a pill. Peptoids are much less expensive and easier to manufacture than antibodies, Dr. Kodadek said. They are also much smaller than antibodies, so they might be better at penetrating tumors or other disease sites, he said.

"Our technique is simple and fast, works with existing chemicals and needs no high-tech instrumentation, except for a microscope to detect the fluorescent colors we use to sort the compounds," said Dr. D. Gomika Udugamasooriya, postdoctoral researcher in internal medicine and lead author of the study.

The new technique also has major advantages over traditional screening techniques that are commonly used to discover biologically active compounds from large collections. These screens, which require extensive automation, generally cost $40,000 or more; the new method can be conducted for less than $1,000.

The researchers screened about 300,000 peptoids to see which ones would interact with VEGFR2, a type of molecule on the surface of human cells. VEGFR2 is essential in creating new blood vessels through interaction with the hormone VEGF, which is normally a helpful process but is harmful to the body when the new blood vessels are nourishing a growing tumor.

A commercially produced antibody is used to treat some cancers by blocking the VEGF-VEGFR2 interaction and thus starving the tumor, but it costs a patient about $20,000 a year, Dr. Kodadek said.

The new screening technology involves hundreds of thousands of peptoids, bound to tiny plastic beads. In the study, the cells with VEGFR2 were labeled to fluoresce red and those lacking VEGFR2 were labeled to fluoresce green. After exposing the beads to the mixture of cells, the beads were examined under a fluorescent microscope. Those bound to red cells -- the ones with VEGFR2 -- were collected.

This screen, which took a couple of days, isolated five peptoids out of approximately 300,000 screened, showing that the process was an effective way to quickly narrow down a search, Dr. Kodadek said.

The researchers further tested one of the five peptoids that bound most tightly to VEGFR2 and found that it blocked VEGFR2's action in cultured cells. When they gave it in low doses to mice with implanted human bone- and soft-tissue cancer, the peptoid slowed the growth of the tumors and reduced the density of blood vessels leading to them.

"This new technique of rapidly isolating biologically active peptoids offers a way to hasten the drug-discovery process and may ultimately benefit patients by providing them with new therapies at a fraction of the cost of current drugs," Dr. Kodadek said.

Other UT Southwestern researchers who participated in the study were general surgery resident Dr. Sean Dineen and Dr. Rolf Brekken, assistant professor of surgery.

The work was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and The Welch Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Synthetic Molecules May Be Less Expensive Alternative To Therapeutic Antibodies, Researchers Find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080404122032.htm>.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2008, April 8). Synthetic Molecules May Be Less Expensive Alternative To Therapeutic Antibodies, Researchers Find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080404122032.htm
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Synthetic Molecules May Be Less Expensive Alternative To Therapeutic Antibodies, Researchers Find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080404122032.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the risk of Ebola becoming an epidemic in the U.S. is essentially zero Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. He also said an Ebola vaccine will be tested in West Africa in the next few months. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for an hour-long bike ride. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) Colorado may have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but the debate around the decision still continues, with a recent - failed - attempt to ban cannabis-infused edibles. Duration: 01:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The British ship RFA ARGUS arrived in Sierra Leone to deliver supplies and equipment to help the fight against Ebola. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins