David Larocca, director of molecular biology at HygeiaPharmaceuticals Inc., today described progress made indecoding the DNA structure of an antigen present on thesurface and within the cytoplasm of certain cancers.

Speaking at the Third International Conference on HumanAntibodies and Hybridomas in San Antonio, Texas, Larocca saidthat by defining the DNA structure of the carcinoma-restrictedantigen, greater specificity is possible in the development oftherapeutics and diagnostics. The antigen, AgSK-1, was derivedfrom a patient with colorectal cancer.

The molecular cloning and expression of cDNA will permitHygeia, a San Diego-based subsidiary of Hygeia Holdings Inc., toclone the antigen and produce more effective antibodies to itsspecific structure, the company said. Larocca added that themolecular cloning of the carcinoma-restricted antigen alsoallows the engineering of a class switch of the antibody thatbinds to this antigen.

SK-1, a human monoclonal antibody developed by Hygeia, is anIgM, a very large and complex antibody. By engineering aswitch to an IgG form, Hygeia said it will be able to attach othercompounds to its SK-1 antibody for therapeutic or diagnosticapplications. The company hopes to develop a highly specificdelivery system targeted precisely for maximum efficacy andminimal side effects.

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