About Antibodies for Cancer Prevention

The latest discoveries in medical technology are using certain antibodies for cancer prevention. These medical miracles are called monoclonal antibodies, or “Mabs”, and can be used to help ward off all kinds of cancers. The technology to aid doctors and nurses fight cancer has only come about within the last several decades. Further research continually turns up more and more Mabs, providing hope for those who have already developed cancer and for those who are trying to protect themselves from it.

The American Cancer Society’s (AMC) web site explains that monoclonal antibodies were first developed in laboratories using mice with myeloma cells, which is a kind of bone marrow cancer, and mice that produced specific antibodies for those cells. The combination of these two cells, called a hybridoma cell, forces a perpetual factory making antibodies. The antibodies end up being identical clones of the original hybridoma cell, which is why they are called monoclonal antibodies. The problem scientists faced with this phenomenal finding was that human antibodies recognized the mouse-produced antibodies as foreign invaders and attacked them. With hard work and dedication, scientists are continuing to develop ways to integrate human antibodies in lieu of mouse antibodies so cancer patients will be able to use the immunotherapy as a form of treatment.

Today there are two types of Mabs, naked and conjugated. The difference between these two lies in the fact that naked antibodies lack radioactive materials attached to them. Conjugated antibodies, on the other hand, are fused with a chemotherapy drug or other toxin used to fight off cancer cells. In recent years the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several Mabs, both naked and conjugated, for cancer treatments. A list of approved Mabs is available through the ACA’s web site. In 2004 and in 2006, Bevacizumab, a naked antibody, was approved for treating certain types of breast cancers. In 2001 the FDA approved the use of Alemuzumab, a naked antibody, which acts as a form of leukemia prevention by attaching itself to both B and T cancer cells, causing the body’s immune system to attack and kill them. In 2000, the FDA approved the use of a conjugated antibody, Gemtuzumab ozogamicin, which is used in the treatment of chronic leukemia.

If you have lost someone to cancer or know someone suffering from cancer, it is not hard to understand how crucial medical research is when it comes to finding antibodies for cancer prevention. The number of cancer victims continues to rise each year, hitting people of all ages. With the prolonged use and approval of Mabs, these numbers may begin to decline, alleviating the fear everyone has about developing some form of the deadly disease. Diet and exercise will only help an individual a certain amount, leaving genetics and medical breakthroughs to do the rest. By continuing to fine tune more variations of antibodies for cancer prevention, medicine as we know it today could be changed for the better in years to come.

Medicine has come a long way in the last fifty years thanks to the help of scientists and research laboratories. Their combined efforts have aided individuals all over the world prevent and treat life-threatening forms of cancer. Advancements in immunotherapy treatments that use antibodies for cancer prevention, combined with other cancer-deterring methods, are just a step on the threshold for greater triumphs to help everyone live long and healthy lives.

DIY Antibody Labeling

For Researchers, using techniques like flow cytometry, Western Blotting, ELISA and immunohistochemistry, antibodies are used to quantify antigens in complex biological samples. These days, it is possible to measure hundreds of antigens simultaneously with multiplex immunoassay technologies. Generally all of these antibody-based detection techniques require a label (antibody labelling) of some description which allows measurability.

The vast majority of antibodies that are available commercially are not labelled, which means they are not quantifiable. Generally only a small number of antibodies, those deemed commercially valuable by the antibody manufacturers, are available in conjugated/labelled form. Also, for the antibodies that are available in conjugated form, it is generally for a small range labels. This can be very restricting when it comes to experimental design.

Using unlabeled antibodies comes with several inherent problems particularly with multiplex assays. For Indirect detection, which commonly uses a secondary antibody with the required label, it is difficult to create a panel of secondary reagents with the desired selectivity and lack of unwanted cross reactions. These problems are overcome, however, by covalently attaching the label directly to the primary antibody, reducing the complexity of immunoassays and quickly and simply producing a flow cytometry antibody ready for analysis.

Historically, antibody labelling has involved chemical modification and has been conducted by commercial organisations with specialist knowledge of the required techniques. However, due to significant advances in antibody labeling technologies, this once difficult, time consuming and costly procedure can now be performed by anyone in the lab without the need for specialist training or experience.

Antibody Therapy For Prostate Cancer

Scientists in the US led by Dr. Mark Greene of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have developed a monoclonal antibody that they hope will become a successful therapeutic agent against prostate cancer. Every year thousands of men die from aggressive forms of this disease. This research holds out hope for those affected although it will be some time before clinical trials will be carried out.

When we become infected by foreign cells such as bacteria or viruses or cancer cells one very important means of defense that we can utilize is to produce antibodies. All cells have proteins on their surfaces known as antigens. When foreign cells enter our bodies the antigens are recognized as foreign by our immune system and B Lymphocytes are prompted to produce antibodies. Once antibodies are formed they act by attaching and binding to the antigens on the surface of the invading cell. This ultimately leads to the destruction of the cell and the removal of the infection or cancer cells. Antibodies are a very powerful weapon in our fight against disease.

There are two significant characteristics of antibodies that we can exploit in the treatment of disease. One is that antibodies are totally specific. For example if we contract an infection such as rubella we will produce an antibody specifically targeted to the rubella virus. The second characteristic is that antibodies remain in our bodies after an infection has been cleared thereby conferring protection into the future against that disease.

It is these characteristics that have led to the development of vaccine technology. Pharmaceutical companies take pathological organisms and treat them so that they cannot cause infection. These inactive organisms make up the main component of a vaccine. When a vaccine is administered our immune system recognizes the antigen, antibody is produced and we become immune to future infection.

The cells which produce antibodies are B Lymphocytes, which are white blood cells. Scientists can isolate and clone B lymphocytes to produce antibodies in laboratory conditions. These antibodies can then be used therapeutically to treat infection or cancer. The antibodies produced will be either polyclonal or monoclonal. Polyclonal antibodies are produced from several cell lines. Monoclonal antibodies are produced from just one cell line. To produce a monoclonal antibody a B Lymphocyte is fused with a tumor cell. The fused cell is known as a hybridoma and it has the capability of reproducing endlessly. This technology allows scientists to create unlimited and large quantities of very specific antibody which can be used to treat disease very effectively. One of the major advantages of the use of monoclonal antibodies is its absolute specificity. It targets a cancer cell directly with with very few side effects for the patient.

Antibodies are already being used to tackle diseases such as lymphoma and breast cancer. Up to now there has been no successful antibody therapy for prostate cancer. Dr Greenes research team has produced an antibody called F77 which looks very promising. Despite the research being at a very early stage, it raises the prospect of an effective treatment for advanced prostate cancer for the first time.

Antibodies for the Study of Immunology

Immunology encompasses the study of all aspects of the immune system. The study of immunology is clinically relevant because an increased understanding of how the immune system functions will allow researchers to develop better treatments for both infectious and autoimmune diseases. Immunological research can also be targeted toward finding ways to harness the immune system to protect against the development of various cancers. Various proteins, including cytokines, chemokines, interferons and interleukins, are involved the various pathways associated with the immune system.

Cytokines

Cytokines are soluble extracellular proteins that act as key modulators of both innate and adaptive immune responses. They are composed of two major subfamilies, chemokines and interleukins, which act as chemotactic cytokines and mediators of leukocyte communication, respectively. Cytokines are released by leukocytes in response to stimuli and regulate many biological processes, including cell activation, cell migration, cell proliferation, cell death, differentiation, angiogenesis, development and tissue repair.

Chemokines

Chemokines are a family of cytokines that have the ability to induce directed chemotaxis in nearby cells. Homeostatic chemokines are involved in controlling the migration of cells during tissue maintenance and development. These chemokines also participate in immune surveillance by directing lymphocytes to the lymph nodes. Pro-inflammatory chemokines are induced by an immune response and recruit immune cells to sites of infection. Their release is stimulated by cytokines in response to bacterial infections, viruses and/or physically damaging agents.

Chemokines can be divided into four classes based on the arrangement of the conserved cysteine residues of the mature proteins. Members of the CC group, which contain two adjacent cysteines near the amino terminus, induce the migration of monocytes, as well as NK cells and dendritic cells. The CXC group contains two N-terminal cysteines separated by one amino acid and is involved in the migration of neutrophils and lymphocytes. C chemokines, the third group, contain one N-terminal cysteine and one downstream cysteine. Members of this group attract T cell precursors to the thymus. The final group, CX3C chemokines, contains three amino acids between two cysteines and serves as adhesion molecules.

Interferons

Interferons (IFNs) are a type of cytokine that facilitate communication between cells to trigger the immune system. These proteins are synthesized and released by host cells in response to either pathogens or tumor cells. In addition to their ability to interfere with viral replication, IFNs also activate immune cells and up-regulate antigen presentation to T lymphocytes. Ten distinct IFNs have been identified in mammals and are classified among three IFN classes, Type IFN, Type II IFN and Type III IFN.

Interleukins

Interleukins (ILs) are a large group of cytokines that mediate cell-to-cell communication. They display a wide spectrum of biological activities including cell activation, differentiation, proliferation and motility. The majority of interleukins are produced by T helper cells, as well as by monocytes, macrophages and endothelial cells. ILs promote the development and differentiation of T-, B- and hematopoietic cells.

A deeper understanding of the various functions of cytokines, chemokines, interferons and interleukins in the body’s defense against pathogens, as well as the development autoimmune diseases, may one day lead to the development of better treatments and possibly even cures for a variety of diseases. Antibodies against these various factors are vital to the study of immunology, and antibody manufacturers are designing product lines to address the needs of this growing research area.