Scientists Discover How to Use Antibodies to Control Chemical Reactions

Antibodies Trigger Chemical Reaction

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Artistic representation of 2 antibodies setting off 2 chain reactions. Credit: Illustration by Oscar Melendre Hoyos

Researchers established a method to manufacture practical particles with particular diagnostic antibodies.

Antibodies are amazing biomarkers: they are the hints that supply us with indicators about numerous illness and how our body immune system counter them. Now a group of researchers from the University of Rome, Tor Vergata (Italy) has actually discovered a method to repurpose them so that they can set off a particular chain reaction.

“We demonstrated a strategy to use specific antibodies to control chemical reactions forming a wide range of molecules, from imaging to therapeutic agents,” states Francesco Ricci, complete teacher at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and senior author of the post. “Our approach allows synthesizing a functional molecule from inactive precursors only when a specific antibody is present in the reaction mixture.”

To attain this objective, the scientists benefited from the flexibility of artificial DNA oligonucleotides and of the predictability of DNA-DNA interactions. “Synthetic oligonucleotides are amazing molecules, they can be modified with a range of reactive groups and also with recognition elements that can target specific antibodies,” states Lorena Baranda, PhD trainee in the group of Prof. Ricci and very first author of the post. “In our work, we rationally designed and synthesized a pair of modified DNA sequences that can recognize a specific antibody and bind to it. When this happens the reactive groups appended on the other ends of the DNA strands will be in close proximity and their reaction will be triggered ultimately leading to the formation of a chemical product,” she describes.

The method showed in this work can be utilized, for instance, to manage the development of practical particles, such as healing representatives, with biomarker antibodies. As an evidence of concept of this possible application the scientists showed the development of an anticoagulant drug able to prevent the activity of thrombin, a crucial enzyme of blood coagulation and an essential target for the treatment of apoplexy. “We demonstrated that a specific IgG antibody can trigger the formation of the anticoagulant agent, which was further proven to efficiently inhibit the activity of thrombin,” states Prof. Ricci. “The strategy is highly specific to the antibody of interest and also programmable. We envision it would represent a new avenue to targeted therapy and diagnostics,” he concludes.

Reference: “Using antibodies to control DNA-templated chemical reactions” by Lorena Baranda Pellejero, Malihe Mahdifar, Gianfranco Ercolani, Jonathan Watson, Tom Brown Jr and Francesco Ricci, 7 December 2020, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-20024-3

The research study in this paper was carried out likewise by Gianfranco Ercolani and Malihe Mahdifar of the University of Rome Tor Vergata and by Jonathan Watson and Tom Brown Jr of the business ATDBio, Oxford, UK.

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