Media reported that the human body has done a good job of protecting itself from invading viruses and bacteria. Antibodies are one of the main routes of defense, but when new threats emerge, the body takes time to produce new antibodies to fight it. A new study led by Berkeley Labs has designed an effective system that should speed up the discovery of new artificial antibodies.
Antibodies are proteins with special tip and can be locked to certain molecules in pathogens. When they do, they either mark the intruder being destroyed by other immune cells, or they are able to directly address the pathogen by inhibiting life. Each antibody is targeted at a specific pathogen, while the human body is centered on various types of antibodies and against various intruders.
Because they are so effective, scientists often harvest antibodies from people who fight certain diseases, or modify them from scratch to help strengthen the immune systems of patients currently suffering from the disease. Unfortunately, this is a difficult and expensive process.
More effective alternatives may be artificial antibodies, as well as other nanoparticles that work in a similar way. In the new study, researchers at Berkeley Labs managed to create a new system for screening artificial antibodies.
The system starts with nanochips made up of molecules called peptides. It then wraps it in the rings of other peptides, which the team calls “rings of class.” Nanochips provide support structures, while rings are active parts of the lock that may be present on molecules that may be present in different pathogens.
All of these “class rings” can be adjusted to different shapes to test how they might attract these pathogen molecules. The team can then expose the system to various molecules and examine which molecules are adhesion. If this is the case, the structure of the ring provides a good starting point for the pathogen’s artificial antibodies. The team says the system can effectively capture these candidate antibodies because of the large number of ring-like compounds on each nanochip. For example, in their tests, they identified a substance that binds to anthrax pathogens and destroys anthrax pathogens.
“We can now easily build a strong population of synthetic materials and design them to identify potential pathogens,” said study co-author Ron Zuckerman. This is a shining example of bionic nanoscience. “
The system is clearly stable and inexpensive to produce, and synthesis and screening can be automated to speed up processing. The researchers hope it will accelerate the discovery of new treatments for various diseases.
The study was published in the journal ACS Nano.