Drug inspired from sharks’ immune system may aid pulmonary fibrosis treatment

New Delhi: Sharks are known to have unusual immune systems. The fact is that these marine predators have a remarkable cancer shield. Earlier research revealed a promising anti-tumor agent obtainable in quantity from shark cartilage. A compound antagonistic to the effects of angiogenin, called (cleverly enough) ‘angiogenin inhibitor’ does just what it sounds like: inhibits the formation of new blood vessels so that the proto-tumor starves or ‘chokes’ in its own waste products.  Now, Australian scientists claim that a drug that mimics part of a shark’s immune system may help treat an incurable lung disease. Pulmonary fibrosis scars lung tissue, causing breathing to become progressively difficult. Scientists from La Trobe University in Australia are preparing to run a world-first clinical trial of the new drug inspired by shark antibodies. The drug, AD-114, is a human protein that is based on the shape of an antibody of a Wobbegong shark. Recent tests on mouse models found AD-114 led to a reduction in fibrosis in the lung and liver, after treatment for 14 and 21 days respectively. Scientists at La Trobe and biotechnology company AdAlta created a humanised version of the shark protein called the i-body, and identified a lead therapeutic i-body candidate for the treatment of fibrosis. “We believe that AD-114 has the potential to be a new treatment for pulmonary fibrosis, a respiratory disease which results in scarring of the lung tissues,” AdAlta CEO Sam Cobb said. “Current therapies for pulmonary fibrosis are considered sub-optimal and there is a high-unmet medical need. “AD-114 now has strong pre-clinical results for pulmonary fibrosis, demonstrating both anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory activity in human lung tissue and indicating greater efficacy than existing approved drugs used to treat the disease,” said Cobb. “The drug’s anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties are effective in reducing collagen build-up in the lungs, which cause shortness of breath in sufferers and eventual death.

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