Intracellular antibodies and cancer: new technologies offer therapeutic opportunities.
Pérez-Martínez D., Tanaka T., Rabbitts TH.
Since the realisation that the antigen-binding regions of antibodies, the variable (V) regions, can be uncoupled from the rest of the molecule to create fragments that recognise and abrogate particular protein functions in cells, the use of antibody fragments inside cells has become an important tool in bioscience. Diverse libraries of antibody fragments plus in vivo screening can be used to isolate single chain variable fragments comprising VH and VL segments or single V-region domains. Some of these are interfering antibody fragments that compete with protein-protein interactions, providing lead molecules for drug interactions that until now have been considered difficult or undruggable. It may be possible to deliver or express antibody fragments in target cells as macrodrugs per se. In future incarnations of intracellular antibodies, however, the structural information of the interaction interface of target and antibody fragment should facilitate development of binding site mimics as small drug-like molecules. This is a new dawn for intracellular antibody fragments both as macrodrugs and as precursors of drugs to treat human diseases and should finally lead to the removal of the epithet of the 'undruggable' protein-protein interactions.