Breakthrough plastic antibodies guard mice against venom

Using molecular imprinting technology, researchers were able to make plastic antibodies which were able to work much like natural antibodies, therapeutic agents the immune system dispatches to hunt down invading antigens. And while the research team was able to successfully test their technology against the active ingredient in bee venom, they note that it would have the same application against viruses, bacteria, allergens and more.

Reporting in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Kenneth Shea, Yu Hosino, and colleagues report that they developed a method to create plastic nanobodies that work the same way antibodies do, latching on to specific antigens to protect the host. By mixing the venom ingredient melittin with monomers, the material hardened around the poison, allowing the researchers to leach it out and create antibodies with toxin-shaped craters.

Immediately after giving mice a lethal injection of venom, they followed up with a dose of their plastic antibodies, saving most of the mice in the drug group. All the mice left untreated quickly died. And there's no reason to believe that the same approach wouldn't work for a host of specific antigens.

"This opens the door to serious consideration for these nanoparticles in all applications where antibodies are used," said Shea.

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