Monday, April 28, 2008

Spiegelmers: Mirror Image Nucleic Acid Polymers

Monoclonal antibodies are all the rage at the moment- particularly for treating autoimmune diseases. Generally speaking, they are used to bind to, and inactivate, target molecules. A similar idea is to make a binding structure out of nucleic acids (the same thing that DNA and RNA is made of) - rather than long chains of amino acids.

I guess this is a little like "eating the recipe"! Nucleic acids are 'supposed' to be instructions for cells to make protein. They are usually the 'thinkers' rather than the 'doers'.

These molecules can be generated in a random fashion, then selected for their binding capability to the required target. Unfortunately, nucleic acid chains are not as stable as proteins, and are rapidly broken down by the body. One solution is to make them out of 'mirror-image' nucleic acids that cannot be broken down by the body's natural enzymes. (Spiegel is German for 'Mirror'). Clever.

Arvo Part's "Spiegel im Spiegel"

thanks to aron for the 'heads up'

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