VNARs: An Ancient and Unique Repertoire of Molecules That Deliver Small, Soluble, Stable and High Affinity Binders of Proteins

Caroline Barelle, Andy Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

At 420 million years, the variable domain of New Antigen Receptors or VNARs are undoubtedly the oldest (and smallest) antigen binding single domains identified in the vertebrate kingdom. Their role as an integral part of the adaptive immune system of sharks has been well established and has served to provide a greater understanding of the evolution of humoral immunity; their cellular components and processes as well as the underlying genetic organization and molecular control mechanisms. Intriguingly, unlike the variable domain of the camelid heavy chain antibodies or VHH, VNARs do not conform to all of the characteristic properties of classical antibodies with an ancestral origin that clearly distinguishes them from true immunoglobulin antibodies. However, this uniqueness of their origin only adds to their potential as next generation therapeutic biologics with their structural and functional attributes and commercial freedom all enhancing their profile and current success. In fact their small size, remarkable stability, molecular flexibility and solubility, together with their high affinity and selectivity for target, all reinforce the potential of these domains as drug candidates. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the existing basic biology of these unique domains, to highlight the drug-like properties of VNARs and describe current progress in their journey towards the clinic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-258
Number of pages18
JournalAntibodies
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015

Keywords

  • VNAR
  • biologics
  • single-domain
  • shark
  • therapeutics
  • humanization
  • stability

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