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Alpaca nanobodies target and dissolve root cause of chronic inflammation

Date: 22.4.2022 

The research was carried out by scientists at Germany's University of Bonn and Brazil's University of Sao Paulo, who were taking aim at something they refer to as ASC specks.

Kredit: John Kaufman.These are large molecular complexes made up of ASC proteins, which are critical to the immune response in human cells, acting as an alarm system when they sense an attack from a pathogen, for example, and banding together.

The resulting ASC specks trigger the accumulation of large numbers of messenger substances that call for help from the immune system, and also bust holes in the cell membrane, enabling the messenger molecules to escape and sound their alarm. But these pores also ultimately lead to the dramatic downfall of the cell.

By tapping into the unique immune system of alpacas, scientists have developed a promising technique for tempering chronic inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis. The breakthrough hinges on what are known as nanobodies, which when taken from the woolly mammals were shown to neutralize the alarm system for the immune system and, in doing so, treat excessive inflammation in unhealthy mice.

The researchers believe they have a countermeasure for the role of ASC specks in chronic inflammation, and this is where the alpacas come in. They are among only a handful of animals that produce single-domain antibodies as part of their immune defenses. Often called nanobodies, these are appealing to scientists for a number of reasons, including the fact that they are easier and cheaper to mass produce, and could bring new options to the table when it comes to treating disease.





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