Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new method to design antibodies aimed at combating disease. Designing antibodies is rather difficult because it requires a very specific combination of antibody loops in order to bind to and neutralize each target. Therefore the arrangement and sequence of the antibody loops is extremely important. Scientists have been unable to realize this as a method for designing antibodies to combat specific ailments thus far due to the incredible complexity of the designing process, but just recently the process was used to create antibodies that target the Alzheimer's protein.
The Alzheimer's protein, the specific protein that causes Alzheimer's disease, sticks to other Alzheimer's proteins to create protein particles, which then damage the normal, healthy functions of the brain. The research led by Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Peter Tessier uses the same molecular interactions that cause these harmful proteins to stick together and form the toxic particles that are a "hallmark of the disease". The good thing is that these new Alzheimer's antibodies only latch on to the damaging clumped proteins and not the unassociated harmless monomers or single peptides. Scientists will need to learns more about this method, but for the future, the researchers see this technique being used to target similar types of protein particles in disorders such as Parkinson's disease and mad cow disease.