Potential to help in the detection of the early stages of cancer

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Research by Professor Angray Kang and Dr. Anatoliy Markiv, in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Westminster, Antibody Technology Group (ATG), has laid the foundation for the creation of a groundbreaking method of detecting specific diseased and uninvited cells within the human body. The method has the potential to assist in the early diagnosis of cancerous cells, particularly those which have been previously difficult to identify.

The technique uses molecular engineering principles and a fluorescent protein, isolated from the red coral Discosoma. When incorporated into a specific antibody to make a ‘REDantibody™’ it causes targeted cells or cell components to glow under a microscope or detector.

This new technology was originally developed for imaging parasites, but could have applications in other areas of human healthcare, in particular cancer. Cancer is notoriously difficult to spot at an early stage, and early diagnosis is critical for the successful treatment of any form of the disease. This invention not only has the potential to catch cancer at an earlier stage, but it also allows for a more precise and accurate differentiation of tumour types. Early detection will allow for more specific and personalised treatment.

This method of detection could provide a reliable, less expensive and quicker alternative to current antibody-based tests which require multiple steps. The REDantibody™ seeks out cancer cells or cell parts of interest in biopsy tissue samples and with further research and appropriate imaging technology, the possibility of seeing cancer cells within the body looks promising.

Professor Angray Kang says: “The potential implications of this new method are very positive and should give real hope to those concerned with their own health and that of family or friends. There is a real opportunity to make a difference to the early diagnosis of serious diseases and infections, which bodes very well for future treatment and outcomes.

“We are in discussions to form collaborations with recognised international leaders in cancer imaging to develop these molecules for the detection of tumours in biopsy samples, and for those elusive circulating cancer cells in the body.”

Further details on Professor Kang and Dr Markiv’s REDantibody™ technology can be found in the Journal of Immunological Methods at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21055406

For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Mark Knight, Sarah Evans-Toyne or Jo McGilway
Broadgate Mainland
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +44(0) 20 7726 6111

Notes to Editors:

1. The University of Westminster is a diverse and dynamic international education institution situated in Harrow and the heart of London, one of the world’s great cities. With a vibrant learning environment and a commitment to educating for professional life, the University has a distinguished 170-year history, and continues to attract more than 20,000 students from 150 different nations. A wide range of Westminster’s courses are independently rated as excellent, and the University’s research leads the way in many areas including art and design, electronic engineering, and media. Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements of the University’s vision for the future.

2. The Antibody Technology Group (ATG), in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Westminster, is internationally recognised in developing and applying antibody-based solutions to a range of diverse problems. The core disciplines encompass recombinant antibody and peptide technology. The Group has expertise in in vitro antibody repertoire library assembly, for accessing novel antibodies and the molecular dissection of the immunoglobulin response in disease states,i.e., malaria, immune individuals, HIV long-term non-progressors/elite suppressors and in autoimmune disorders. The tools and techniques developed by the ATG can be applied to natural and synthetic receptor libraries to select and engineer therapeutic and diagnostic molecules. The Group recently created a novel synthetic REDantibody™ for potential use in cancer diagnostics and stem cell sorting. The group is creating novel recombinant antibodies for paratransgenic applications in a range of globally important arthropod vectored diseases of humans such as Chagas’ , Kala-azar and malaria. In parallel, a similar approach is being explored with an agricultural application to prevent the spread of Pierces Disease in grape vines.

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