The question as to whether all-natural treatment options in medicine and healthcare are superior to synthetics has been one that has always been hotly contested. While there is certainly a time and place for lab-concocted therapeutics, however, the need for biologically-sourced alternatives nonetheless remains in growing demand.
This is especially true for biotherapeutics, a specific branch of medicine that focuses exclusively on organically derived treatment options. Derived from living cells, biotherapeutics are slowly starting to make a name for themselves in the healthcare sector. From making vaccines to the ever-elusive cure for cancer, the possibilities are undoubtedly vast.
Nonetheless, there are a handful of avenues that are particularly benefiting from the mounting interest in these biotherapeutics. Not only has ample research capital been invested into it, but the emerging potential that these specific areas seem to profess further highlights their promise for viable cures to a myriad of chronic, life-threatening diseases.
1. Monoclonal Antibodies
Monoclonal antibodies (mAB or moAB) are synthesized by cloning white blood cells that can attach to certain targets in the subject, like antigens on the circumference of cancerous cells. After years of research and experimentation, we have been able to engineer a variety of monoclonal antibodies, and in such a way that each can bind to only one antigen.
Monoclonal antibodies have found an extensive range of applications in the pharmaceutical industry where they are being employed to carry drugs, toxins, and other essential treatments directly to cancer cells. As they possess monovalent affinity (that is, they can bind to an antigen identified exclusively by the antibody), their course of action puts them in contrast with polyclonal antibodies that can adhere to several epitopes at the same time.
2. Bi-Specific Monoclonal Antibodies
In contrast to monoclonal antibodies, bi-specific antibodies (bsAbs) have two binding sites on the same antigen. This offers them a much superior range of applications within the field of cancer studies. Although their path of progression is ladened with challenges such as the mismatching of heavy and light chains, with proper techniques, these hurdles could be overcome to enhance the biological activity of targeted cells.
The enhanced binding process of bi-specific monoclonal antibodies allows them to facilitate tumor growth suppression by altering the immune system. It simultaneously blocks multiple signaling pathways, targets mediators of any disease, and delivers the required toxins to the targeted sites. Nonetheless, they are making an appearance as the growing class of immunotherapies.
3. Fusion Proteins
Made from a fusion gene or portions of genes for two proteins, fusion proteins can offer a blend of attributes that were previously expressed by their parent genes via a single polypeptide. Depending on the subunits used for fusion, these types of proteins can be divided into two types: the first of which consists of two proteins fused end-to-end, and the second, in which both donors offer amino acids for interspersing.
Some of the most pressing applications of fusion proteins include aiding in the refinement of cloned genes, reporting expression levels, and facilitating histochemical tags to mark the locations of proteins in tissues or cells. In modern healthcare, fusion proteins offer high-stake simplicity to the process of protein isolation and refolding to increase their efficiency. This has in turn opened the doors to new techniques that allow for enhanced expression and prevention of proteolysis.
Vaccines have played a critical role in facing public health crises for over 200 years now. Today, they are being developed for treating a wide majority of infectious diseases and conditions arising from auto-immune, cardiovascular, and neurological disorders. When it comes to vaccines and other biotherapeutics, the development of stable cell lines is crucial for research and efficiently maneuvering through the initial stages of discovery and candidate selection.
In simpler words, cell line development is imperative for generating and selecting clonal lines with essential recombinant proteins, while filtering out clones that may fail during the process. Nonetheless, high-quality proprietary membranes are helping us address the challenges of advanced biologics, all the while supporting and improving the commercial manufacturing process.
In this new age of biotherapeutics, products such as hormones, interferons, cytokines, and other essential peptides and proteins (including those from novel cell lines) are on the ascent. While most of them were originally withdrawn in small amounts from human tissues and secretions, with the onset of recombinant DNA technology, we now have the ability to extract high concentrations of characterized materials – and from it, change the topography of healthcare indefinitely.