Cancer is the major cause of deaths all around the world and scientists are working hard to find its potential treatments. Sometimes, the prospective treatments are found in the natural world like the immune system of camelids. EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor) causes cancer when dysregulated and numerous therapeutic tools that have the potential to block its activity have been described by Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).
No inhibitors have been designed for EGF up till now, but researchers have isolated a family of nanobodies from camelids derived from alpacas which possess a therapeutic effect by inhibiting EGF. Previously, the advanced treatments have been established against the EGR receptor (EGFR) but the patients developed resistance leading to the decreased efficacy. The new inhibitors have been designed by employing an evolving biotech tool, nanobodies which have high-affinity for EGF.
EGF protein was produced by IRB Barcelona and administration to alpacas was done by their Belgian colleagues. A series of nanobodies was produced as an immune response against the strange antigen in these animals which are potent inhibitors of EGF. The IRB Barcelona team used biophysical techniques to characterize high-affinity ligands and analyze the interactions in cells in vitro and in human cancer cells.
Ernest Giralt, head of the Peptide and Proteins Lab at IRB Barcelona stated that they had challenged nature by finding a tightly binding molecule to EGF by injecting EGF into the alpaca. This drug is highly benefitting for the patients who have established resistance to the EGFR inhibitors available currently. The pharmacological effect of these new nanobodies is yet to be evaluated in cell and animal models of cancer.