Friday, September 12, 2008

We are so close to miracle medicine

We are introducing a chromatography product in a couple of weeks that makes it fun to do this work. Turns out that for reasons of its own, Staph. aureus produces something called Protein A that binds antibodies, probably to keep it from getting picked up in the blood. In our case, we are brewing and binding Protein A to a substrate so that drug companies can use it to test therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. I have found the conversations with the production and testing people on this subject quite interesting. All these MAB's in the pipelines are 'magic bullets' for tumors of various types, and I hope the one I may need someday will be there before I need it.

The other magic medical wand we need is a way to do gene therapy, a way to insert a gene into the DNA so something can be made or suppressed when a gene is or becomes inactive. Viral vectors have been used in research, but it's problematic to find a modified virus to infect humans that has no side effects. Adenovirus is used in a couple of cases, but there are problems with that. Today I see where shistosomes secrete a protein that could be used as a vector. This parasite is the second most costly disease. The shistosomes are very clever at changing their immunological presentation to avoid being attacked by the host. I don't know if this sounds better than a viral vector to me or not. But the point is, this next generation of medicine, gene therapy, is getting closer to being there for me when I need it.