Antibodies: tools for research of and treatment of cancer


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Theresa Street

Cancer Research UK, London, UK

Abstract

The uniqueness and power of antibodies for use in research is dependant on their specific ability to recognise an antigenic epitope. This targeting ability allows them to be used to identify proteins of interest in vitro or in vivo.

Antibodies can be raised against any molecule that is involved in or directly elicits a cancerous response, whether this is DNA, protein, peptide, carbohydrate or lipid. They allow identification and localisation of target antigens in tissues, cells and organelles via histology, immunocytochemistry, imunoflourescence, sub-cellular fractionation, western blotting, etc. May be used to detect antigen on the surface of cells or used to sort cell populations of interest (FACs) or investigate the interaction of the molecule of interest with other proteins or receptors via immunoprecipitation / pull downs or through basic competition.

Antibodies may also be used as diagnostic tools e.g. against the c-erb B2 protein in breast cancer or the papillomavirus in cervical cancer. They can act directly against the cancer themselves e.g. Erbitux or Avastin for colon cancer or target a specific cancer to deliver a payload to destroy the malignant cells e.g. Ibritumomab for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Gentuzumab for acute myelogenous leukaemia.

The uniqueness and power of antibodies for use in research is dependant on their specific ability to recognise an antigenic epitope. This targeting ability allows them to be used to identify proteins of interest in vitro or in vivo.

Antibodies can be raised against any molecule that is involved in or directly elicits a cancerous response, whether this is DNA, protein, peptide, carbohydrate or lipid. They allow identification and localisation of target antigens in tissues, cells and organelles via histology, immunocytochemistry, imunoflourescence, sub-cellular fractionation, western blotting, etc. May be used to detect antigen on the surface of cells or used to sort cell populations of interest (FACs) or investigate the interaction of the molecule of interest with other proteins or receptors via immunoprecipitation / pull downs or through basic competition.

Antibodies may also be used as diagnostic tools e.g. against the c-erb B2 protein in breast cancer or the papillomavirus in cervical cancer. They can act directly against the cancer themselves e.g. Erbitux or Avastin for colon cancer or target a specific cancer to deliver a payload to destroy the malignant cells e.g. Ibritumomab for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Gentuzumab for acute myelogenous leukaemia.

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