Nanobodies from alpacas can fight solid tumors

nanobodies alpacas CART

They are funny to look at, mild and intelligent: that was what we knew about alpacas until 1989. That year, two students discovered by chance one important feature that has long remained unknown. This and other species belonging to camelid family have "miniature" antibodies: smaller than ours and those of most mammals, they can reach even the most difficult targets. Researchers at Boston Children 's Hospital used the so called “nanobodies” to make CAR-T cells better at solid tumors. The study has been published in the journal PNAS.

nanobodies, fight solid tumors

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White sharks genome reveals secrets about wound healing and cancer

sharks

White shark: their only name inspires fear. Not only are they the most dangerous sharks in the world, but they also got a few tricks up their sleeve: their wounds heal very fast; they are long-lived and rarely get cancer. Now, their genome has been fully decoded for the first time, revealing the molecular secrets of white shark’s extraordinary adaptation. The findings are reported in the journal Pnas.

white shark, genome reveals

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Bat flu viruses use a “universal” key to infect cells

bats influenza

Novel influenza A viruses identified in bats in 2012 use a particular, receptor to infect cells, which was unknown until recently. Researchers from University of Zurich have finally discovered its identity. Bad news is that it is not exclusive to bats, but largely diffused among vertebrates. This makes such viruses potentially transmittable to other species and even more likely than other influenza viruses. The research was published in Nature.

Bat, universal key

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CAR-T for dogs: where are we?

dog car t

Humans will not be the only beneficiaries of CAR-T therapy for much longer. The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is the only institution in the world that is bringing this sophisticated technology into veterinary clinic in order to cure dogs from cancer. Thanks to the passionate work of researchers and veterinaries, our pet friends may soon access the same therapy available for humans and have one more chance against cancer.

CAR-T, dog

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Bi-specific antibodies, like a bridge between cancer and immune system

bites

Monoclonal antibodies are specialized bullets that target only specific molecules. Some antibodies recognize proteins expressed by tumor cells, while others bind receptors on the surface of immune cells. What if they can do both? A class of antibody called BiTE (bi-specific T cell engager antibodies) is able to simultaneously bind a T cell and a cancer cell, forming a bridge between the two and thus helping the former destroy the latter.

Bi-specific antibodies

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Rabbit vs myxoma virus: a 70 years neck-and-neck race coming to a turn

rabbits myxoma

A 70 years arms race has become “one of the greatest natural experiments in evolution”. The two antagonists are rabbits and myxoma virus, which was intentionally released in Australia and Europe in the 1950s, in an attempt to control European rabbit populations. Researchers from Cambridge University investigated the genetic mechanisms that enabled rabbits to escape the deadly virus… that, in the meantime, has been fighting back!

myxoma virus, rabbit

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