How do you train antibodies to attack skin cancer?

20 July 2008

Question

How do you train antibodies to attack skin cancer?

Answer

We put this question to Dr Melanie McCullagh:

Melanie - Monoclonal antibodies are a very interesting new way of treating cancer and one of the really clever things about them is that they target specific receptors on the surface of the cancer. What we know about antibodies is that their structure is like a lock and key. They fit very closely onto the receptor and are very specific to where they take the activity of the antibody. In melanoma, which is a particularly serious form of cancer with some really quite poor outcomes, there's some really great work going on at the moment looking at making the antibodies target those receptors much more specifically and much more clearly to the cancer itself. Chris - Do you see this as being a massive growth area now? Are we going to see people that are better at doing this in future?

Melanie - I think it's really important and there's a lot of companies working on how to develop new forms of antibodies with a greater specificity for cancer but also with different types of activities. Even ones that can carry other cancer therapeutics directly to the site of the tumour, which is very interesting.

Chris - It's very important too since one person in every three will ultimately in their lifetime die of cancer.

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