Scientists create antibodies that could repair tissue

October 14, 2019
antibodies_repair_tissue_blog

Canadian researchers have made an important advancement in creating synthetic antibodies, which could hold the key for the body to repair itself.

The team at the University of Toronto has been working for more than a decade on developing synthetic antibodies for broad applications. The study was published in the journal eLife.

“This is a cool idea to engineer antibodies to mimic key growth factors known as Wnt proteins,” said Scott Jones, Vice President, Scientific Affairs at BioBridge Global. “Wnt proteins regulate stem and progenitor cells. These proteins play a fundamental role in development and tissue repair.”

Scientists have been looking for years for ways to create Wnt proteins to activate stem cells in order to generate a mass of cells or tissue that mimic organs. The issue was that the proteins are attached to fat and lipid molecules in their natural state and thus are hard to isolate. They aren’t suitable to be used as a treatment because they’re not water soluble so they can’t be injected easily.

A Toronto startup, AntlerA Therapeutics, will collaborate with the researchers with the hope to turn the antibodies into new drugs.

"Thanks to the close collaboration and proximity between our labs, we were able to apply protein engineering to activate a critical stem cell signaling pathway with the ultimate goal to develop regenerative medicine promoting the repair of diverse tissues in the body," said Stephanie Angers, cofounder of AntlerA Therapeutics and a researcher on the study, in the university’s news release.

The research opens the potential for multiple uses in regenerative medicine.

“These antibodies could possibly be used as a treatment for irritable bowel disease and other intestinal ailments since they have the potential to regenerate the intestinal lining,” Jones said. “It is a great discovery, but a lot of additional work has to be done.”

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