Antibody developed by NTU-led team in Singapore tracks flu recovery

SINGAPORE--Nanyang Technological University (NTU) researchers in Singapore working with colleagues at other local institutions have developed an antibody with the potential to help patients suffering from pneumonia and influenza to recover faster, NTU said in a news release.

The team from NTU's School of Biological Sciences, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, National University of Singapore (NUS) and doctors from National University Health System--are now using the antibody to develop a diagnostic kit. The kit can help doctors accurately track the recovery progress of flu and pneumonia patients.

NTU added that while the antibody has proven effective in lab tests, more research needs to be done before the antibody can be safely tested in humans.

Two biotech multinational corporations, Abcam and Adipogen International, have won rights to license the antibody, said NTU. The antibody will be produced for sale to global organizations doing research in vaccine and drug development.

The antibody finding was published Friday in the prestigious international peer-reviewed journal Cell Reports with NTU Associate Professor Andrew Tan leading the interdisciplinary team of scientists.

The new antibody works by blocking ANGPTL4 which was found to be in high concentration in the tissue samples taken from patients suffering from pneumonia.

"When the antibody we developed was given to mice suffering from pneumonia and influenza which had high levels of ANGPTL4, these mice recovered much faster than the other mice who didn't receive the antibodies," Tan said in a statement.

"We know that ANGPTL4 usually helps to regulate blood vessel leakiness. But this is the first time we have shown that by blocking this protein, we are able to control the natural response of inflammation, which in turn reduces the damage that inflammation does to the lungs."

"The concentration of ANGPTL4 correlates to the amount of inflammation the patient is having," Tan said. "With our diagnostic kit, doctors will be able to see if a particular treatment is working for a patient. This is done by observing whether the concentration of ANGPTL4 is decreasing or not."

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