MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, is probably best known for its work in discovering and developing therapeutics based on antibodies -protein molecules produced by the body as a primary immune response. However, for a number of reasons, including the large size of the molecule, antibodies may not always offer the most appropriate solution for treating some diseases. In those cases there may be alternative, innovative approaches which can be explored in parallel with our usual work with antibodies.
One such approach is to look at peptides, molecules which are much smaller than antibodies but are comprised of the same fundamental amino acid building blocks. Peptides are at the forefront of MedImmune’s research into treatments for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and offer significant untapped therapeutic potential. They are versatile molecules which possess useful characteristics; in some ways they are similar to antibodies, in other ways they are very different. Like antibodies, they are built from natural building blocks and can be targeted to regulate physiological processes or trigger metabolic signals. However, their small size means that they can potentially cross membranes and reach places in tissues that are too small for antibodies, activating a physiologic response or acting as a mechanism for delivering drugs where they can be most effective.