Shark Antibodies Could Hold Treatment for Breast Cancer

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There is potentially a new treatment option on the horizon that comes from an unlikely place. The University of Aberdeen in Scotland is conducting a three-year study that will determine whether or not compounds found in shark’s blood can stop cancer cells from growing. Specifically, an antibody called IgNAR, which is very unique because of its ability to target viruses or parasites that human antibodies cannot reach. The antibody is found in the blood of sharks.

“With the funding from AICR, we can begin to explore the potential of IgNAR as a future treatment for breast cancer,” Dr. Helen Dooley, the study’s lead author, said. “This is only the first step in a very long process, but if our hypothesis holds true we hope to develop new anti-cancer drugs based upon these unique shark antibodies.”

The IgNAR antibody would specifically target HER cancers in people who have become immune or resistant to drugs like Herceptin, which is intended to stop the HER 2 receptor from working. An estimated 20 to 25 percent of breast cancers are HER2, which grow more rapidly than other type of tumor. IgNAR could stop HER2 and HER3 tumors from growing and dividing.

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