An innovation born out of frustration can give a huge boost to laboratory research into new treatments and medicines. Researchers Martijn Verdoes, theme Nanomedicine, and Bas van der Schoot, theme Cancer development and immune defense, together with Ferenc Scheeren, Leiden University Medical Centre, developed a technique to engineer and produce antibodies quickly, easily and cheaply. "This new technique will open up the field." The researchers published their results in the open access journal Science Advances.
Antibodies play a crucial and growing role in cancer treatment, immunotherapy and diagnostics. Antibodies recognise a cancer cell or another cell very specifically. Fundamental researchers also use antibodies in their research and in the development of new therapies. At present, however, producing and engineering antibodies is a lengthy, specialized and expensive process, which is consequently carried out mainly by biotechnology companies.
Easy, cheap and fast
This is a source of great frustration for researchers such as Scheeren and Verdoes. "We have all kinds of ideas for new research, but we were hampered because we couldn't engineer antibodies ourselves", Scheeren explains. The recent CRISPR-Cas technology offered a solution. "Using this new technique, we can easily, quickly and cheaply introduce genetic modifications in cells continuously producing large amounts of antibodies, so called hybridoma cells. This enabled us to produce large quantities of antibody variants to which we have made a variety of functional modifications, in a short period of time", says Bas van der Schoot, first author of the article.
The researchers believe that their discovery breaks open the field for the use of antibodies in the research phase. “Tinkering with an antibody can provide a great deal of information about its mode of actions”, says Verdoes. “We can also introduce completely new elements and learn step by step how to make the antibody increasingly effective for clinical use. Using our technique, this can now be done at low cost and in a short period of time."
Several fellow-researchers have already responded enthusiastically, according to Scheeren. "Almost every laboratory able to culture cells – and there are many of them – can use this effective technique." The researchers therefore make their reagents publicly available on the addgene.com website.
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 679921).
Related news items
Less registration leads to more time for the patient16 July 2020
On average, care providers spend more than 52 minutes of their working day on quality registrations. Only 36% of these registrations can be used to improve care and that the registration burden weighs on the motivation of care providers.read more
Summer greetings from René Bindels16 July 2020
In this last newsletter before most colleagues enjoy their well-deserved summer break, I would like to briefly summarize the first part of 2020 and look ahead to the many activities that will take place in the coming months of this unprecedented year.read more
ATRO Medical, Radboudumc and Samaplast develop new meniscus prosthesis Consortium receives EUROSTARS grant for innovative project16 July 2020
An international consortium led by ATRO Medical, a spin-off of Radboudumc and DSM, will receive € 800,000 European funding for an innovation aimed at patients with knee osteoarthritis. These patients often suffer from cartilage wear due to a meniscus that no longer works properly.read more
First podcast 'AI for Life' about Artificial Intelligence in Nijmegen Podcast on medical image processing with Bram van Ginneken, Ritse Mann and Eva van Rikxoort16 July 2020
The first podcast on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Nijmegen was released today. In this podcast on spotify and anchor Bram van Ginneken, Ritse Mann and Eva van Rikxoort talk about AI and medical image processing. The next podcast is about smart chatbots.read more
Cardiac Function in Relation to Myocardial Injury in Hospitalised Patients With COVID-1916 July 2020
In Netherlands Heart Journal RIHS researcher Frederik van den Heuvel described that in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, it seems that COVID-19 predominantly affects the respiratory system, while cardiac dysfunction occurs less often.read more