Free Press Journal

A drug inspired by shark could treat lung diseases


Melbourne: A drug that mimics part of a shark’s immune system may help treat an incurable lung disease, Australian scientists claim. Pulmonary fibrosis scars lung tissue, causing breathing to become progressively difficult. Scientists from La Trobe University in Australia are preparing to run a world-first clinical trial of the new drug inspired by shark antibodies.

The drug, AD-114, is a human protein that is based on the shape of an antibody of a Wobbegong shark. Recent tests on mouse models found AD-114 led to a reduction in fibrosis in the lung and liver, after treatment for 14 and 21 days respectively.

Scientists at La Trobe and biotechnology company AdAlta created a humanised version of the shark protein called the i-body, and identified a lead therapeutic i-body candidate for the treatment of fibrosis. “We believe that AD-114 has the potential to be a new treatment for pulmonary fibrosis, a respiratory disease which results in scarring of the lung tissues,” AdAlta CEO Sam Cobb said.

“Current therapies for pulmonary fibrosis are considered sub-optimal and there is a high-unmet medical need.”AD-114 now has strong pre-clinical results for pulmonary fibrosis, demonstrating both anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory activity in human lung tissue and indicating greater efficacy than existing approved drugs used to treat the disease,” said Cobb.

“The drug’s anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties are effective in reducing collagen build-up in the lungs, which cause shortness of breath in sufferers and eventual death.”There is great demand for a treatment as current lung fibrosis drugs have proved to have little impact in treating the disease for which there is no cure,” Cobb said.

“To the average person sharks are a creature to steer clear of, but in the scientific world treatments based on shark antibody have the potential to save lives,” Mick Foley, Associate Professor at La Trobe’s Institute of Molecular Science (LIMS) said. “In the future we think the humanised i-body, AD-114, may also be a suitable drug to treat other forms of fibrosis found in the liver, skin, eyes, heart and kidneys,” said Foley.