Synthetic Antibodies

Syn­thet­ic anti­bod­ies are bio­mimet­ic mate­ri­als in the form of minute poly­mer par­ti­cles mould­ed round a tar­get mol­e­cule in such a way that they pre­serve its “print”.

Hence their spe­cif­ic prop­er­ty, viz., capa­ble of rec­og­niz­ing and neu­tral­iz­ing this tar­get exact­ly as an anti­body does with a path­o­gen­ic agent. “We call these syn­thet­ic anti­bod­ies mol­e­c­u­lar­ly imprint­ed poly­mers (MIPs) and they have been known for some time now”, explains Jeanne Bernadette Tse Sum Bui, research sci­en­tist at the UTC GEC Lab (Enzyme and Cel­lu­lar engineering). 

“How­ev­er at UTC-GEC we are work­ing on new appli­ca­tions. With the com­pa­ny L’Oréal, for exam­ple, we demon­strat­ed that the MIPs could act as active ingre­di­ents in deodor­ants, inas­much as they can cap­ture and seques­trate mol­e­cules that lead to tran­spi­ra­tion odours before the bac­te­ria present on our skin degrade them into volatile, foul-smelling com­pounds”. The advan­tage here is to forego use of cer­tain ingre­di­ents in clas­sic deodor­ants, e.g., alu­mini­um salts that are poten­tial­ly tox­ic and car­cino­genic and/or antibac­te­r­i­al prod­ucts while in the long term can dis­turb seri­ous­ly the skin flo­ra that nat­u­ral­ly com­bat path­o­gen­ic agents and hence encour­age the arrival of resis­tant bac­te­r­i­al strains. MIPs do not alter skin flo­ra at all. And, even though they are micro­scop­ic, they are still too large to pen­e­trate the skin bar­ri­er. “Syn­thet­ic anti­bod­ies are also prov­ing to be promis­ing in bio­med­ical appli­ca­tions”, under­scores Jeanne Bernadette Tse Sum Bui. 

“Today, we are seek­ing oth­er pos­si­ble uses as bio-mark­ers for var­i­ous ail­ments – for exam­ple, sial­ic acid the pres­ence of which in large quan­ti­ties may indi­cate a case of can­cer. Here the idea is to devel­op MIPs that tar­get the sial­ic acid mol­e­cule and inte­grate a flu­o­res­cent monomer which dis­plays a colour when excit­ed by a light-source. By observ­ing a cell biop­sy with these MIPs under a flu­o­res­cent sen­si­tive micro­scope, we see the colour marks each of which des­ig­nat­ed a sial­ic acid mol­e­cule cap­tured by an MIP. This should prove an effi­cient way to quan­ti­fy the sial­ic con­tent accu­rate­ly and to deter­mine whether the cells in ques­tion are real­ly can­cer­ous or not”. Bet­ter still – MIPs could also serve as med­i­c­i­nal vec­tors for cer­tain ail­ments, releas­ing their active ingre­di­ents on site (viz., deliv­ered to the ill tis­sues with­out procur­ing any unwant­ed side-effects on healthy tis­sues. This is a research area that UTC-GEC intends to explore soon. 

Le magazine

Novembre 2023 - N°61

Activité physique, nutrition & santé

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