Antibody detects indicators of disease
The right antibody enables the identification of markers indicating a possible disease in a blood or urine sample, for example. This way, the patient can receive treatment as quickly as possible. Henri Arola, who graduated from the Aalto University as Master of Science (Technology), developed in his Master’s thesis new and promising antibodies that can be used in the diagnostics of thyroid hormones and catecholamines.
The high-quality research performed at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland earned Arola the prize for the best thesis of 2011 in the field of biotechnology. The recognition is awarded by the Division of Biotechnology of the Association of Finnish Chemical Societies.
The antibodies are able to identify even very small molecules, such as hormones, vitamins or toxins.
Recombinant antibodies like the ones developed by Arola can be used, among other things, in new quick tests.
The molecules to be detected, i.e. antigens, bind effectively with their antibodies, meaning that the quick test will provide rapid results on whether the sample contains the markers or not.
In addition to medical diagnostics, the quick tests are needed in areas such as in food hygiene and when examining environmental samples.
Mould toxins as a new research topic
"Recombinant antibodies can be produced inexpensively in great quantities by growing bacteria containing the antibody gene in fermenters," explains Henri Arola.
"Once the amino acid sequences and crystal structures of the antibodies are known, it is possible to plan changes in the desired gene regions using computer programs, and, for example, produce antibodies that bind with their antigen even better."
Arola is current continuing his research as an employee at VTT. He is working on his doctoral dissertation and focusing on a new type of antibodies.
"We are developing antibodies for mould toxins. Our aim is to develop methods for performing quick tests that can be used in the food industry to determine whether grain or other food samples contain traces of mould toxins."
Henri Arola presented his Master’s thesis at the 15th Anniversary Seminar of Finnish Bioindustries FIB, where he was awarded the EUR 1,000 prize.
Photo: Carmela Kantor-Aaltonen