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Sep 1, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 15)

Peptide Therapies Coming Into Their Own

Recent Strides in Research and Emerging Technologies Energize a Once Stagnating Field

  • Biomarkers

    Click Image To Enlarge +
    A microarray of reagentless peptide-based FRET assays printed on the surface of a TIRF-EC slide from TIRF Technologies.

    Detecting new biomarkers is the focus of many research groups. Peptides and proteins can be biomarkers in biological fluids such as serum or plasma, but like other biomarkers they may exist in low abundance, making their discovery quite challenging. According to Sigma-Aldrich, its Immunodepletion technology addresses that challenge. At the center of Immunodepletion is a novel, tandem IgY14-Supermix immunoaffinity separation system that is reportedly capable of depleting more than 90 highly abundant and moderately abundant proteins from serum, facilitating the discovery of low-abundance biomarkers.

    “The IgY antibody used in the technology was developed in chickens, resulting in high specificity and minimum nonspecific binding,” said Dian Er Chen, principal investigator, proteomics R&D. “The non-specific binding of the depletion system was evaluated by spiking the system with varying quantities of nonhuman proteins into sample plasma.”

    Furthermore, Chen added that this depletion technology is significant because it allows for the enrichment and detection of low-abundant proteins, the category where most protein biomarkers reside. “Further development of this technology could lead to a screening system for early protein biomarkers of common diseases.”

    TIRF Technologies discovers peptide and peptoid ligands for bioassays designed for the detection of bioterrorist agents and markers of various diseases. “Our technology, which is already on the market, is proficient at reading biomolecular interactions,” said Alexander Asanov, Ph.D., president and CEO. The technology is being utilized by many industries to perform sighted (nonrandom) screening for interactions between potential ligands in a peptide library.

    “If there’s an interaction, we know it within seconds or minutes, in contrast to several hours or days typical for traditional technologies,” said Dr. Asanov. “This technology has been successfully used in the discovery of aptamers made of DNA oligomers, peptides, and peptoids.” 

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