Advances continue to be made on treatments for cancer, HIV, and others (which is heartening because i'm always wondering what the hell they're doing with all that money people donate at fundraisers for things like cancer research). Link
In work recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society Spiegel and his team have successfully developed the first synthetic molecules that behave like antibodies. Like the real thing, these so-called "synthetic antibody mimics"--or "SyAMs"--bind to both diseased cells and disease-fighting immune cells. Specifically the compounds were found to zero in on and bind to a specific antigen on prostate cancer cells. The SyAMs also bind to and activate certain immune cells that then devour the malignancy.
Spiegel's SyAMs are produced in a way that is similar to conventional drugs, by using chemical reactions to piece together various structural features often not found in nature. As he explains, the therapeutic potential of synthetic antibodylike compounds is vast: "Because antibodies are proteins they're difficult and expensive to produce on a large scale, can cause unwanted immune reactions and tend to aggregate and denature with long-term storage." Spiegel speculates that SyAMs will be easier and cheaper to produce and less likely to incite aberrant immune activity. SyAMs are also one twentieth the size of antibodies--more akin to the size of most medications--and can therefore perhaps be administered orally. This could be a major boon to patients with cancers and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis who have to regularly get themselves to infusion centers for monoclonal antibody therapy.