Researchers at Scripps Research Institute in Florida have come upon a novel way of finding antibodies that may prove to be instrumental in diagnosing autoimmune diseases. The study, led by Scripps Research Professor Thomas Kodadek, Ph.D., was published in the January 7, 2011 edition of the journal Cell.
Traditionally, biomarkers for a disease are sought by exposing known antigens to a patient’s serum to try to identify antibodies that are over-produced. However, in Alzheimer’s disease, the exact antigen is not known, so this test is not feasible. The Scripps researchers instead took synthetic molecules named peptoids and hoped that the peptoids would “look” like the Alzheimer’s antigen and thus attract antibodies.
“We use these peptoids as a lure to capture the IgG antibodies,” Kodadek said. “Some of these synthetic molecules recognize the antigen-binding sites of disease-specific antibodies well enough to pull them from blood samples, although they almost certainly don’t bind as well as the native antigens. This ability should make it possible to short circuit the discovery of the natural antigens.”
A few important biomarkers were found that could mark the presence of Alzheimer’s. Much work remains to be done on this concept, but hopefully the idea will prove helpful in identifying a wide range of antibody-mediated diseases.
Press release: Scripps Research Scientists Develop Groundbreaking Technology to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease
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Abstract in Cell: Fishing for Biomarkers with Antigen Mimics