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Joining forces on drug discovery

This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Summer ‘22
Key Researchers
Professor James Vince
Laboratory Head
Mermaid Bio logo

WEHI and German biotechnology company Mermaid Bio GmbH are collaborating to discover and develop a novel class of drug candidates that can target misfunctioning proteins inside cells.

The collaboration will harness new vaccine technologies to turn diseased cells into factories for nanobodies – miniature antibodies that can be used to treat a wide range of diseases.

Human antibodies have been used to treat many illnesses, from cancers to skin diseases. Nanobodies are just as effective at binding to target proteins but are just one-tenth the size.

While their small size means they can function effectively inside cells, they can also be filtered too quickly from the bloodstream.

To address this issue, the new research will use lipid nanoparticle (LNP)/RNA delivery technologies similar to those used in the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19.

Professor James Vince, WEHI laboratory head and Scientific Director at Mermaid Bio, said: “By delivering nanobodies via LNP and mRNA technology, where a single mRNA molecule can produce hundreds of copies of the encoded protein, we will solve the key challenge to using antibodies within cells.”

Initial studies will involve protein targets associated with liver diseases and liver cancer.

First published on 15 December 2022
This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Summer ‘22
WEHI Authors
Professor James Vince
Laboratory Head
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