October 19, 2016 - In new research funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Joint Science and Technology Office (JSTO) and performed by U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) scientists, shark antibodies are proving to offer new alternatives to chemical and biological threat detection and treatment tools. In an era of Department of Defense belt-tightening, the goal is to find more innovative, cost-effective approaches to protecting our warfighters.
Current detection and treatment applications use mammal antibodies. However, shark antibodies are smaller and more thermally stable when heated, allowing for greater structure and binding retention qualities. These properties allow for more consistent product development of therapeutic and diagnostic tools and stabilizing high melting temperatures to reduce the logistical cost of shipping and storing since refrigeration would no longer be required.
Other advantages include the ability of single-domain antibodies to be rationally-selected, tailored to specific applications and easier to mass-produce by standard recombinant technology. These benefits support the tenants of DoD's Better Buying Power 3.0 by developing new, cost-effective technologies for our nation's defense.
Offering the first demonstration of molecular engineering to increase the thermal stability of shark-derived antibodies, researchers published their success in a PLOS ONE journal submission, "Importance of Hypervariable Region 2 for Stability and Affinity of a Shark Single-Domain Antibody Specific for Ebola Virus Nucleoprotein."