Proteins and peptides are key molecules in all biological processes. Their unique chemical properties make them particularly well suited for use as therapeutic agents. They have high biological activity and specificity with comparably few toxic side effects, and can be used to produce a range of highly diversified compounds that are not subject to intellectual property restrictions. The market for synthetic therapeutic peptides is growing steadily, making it an increasingly attractive area for pharmaceutical companies.
The research project’s specific focus was the development of peptides and antibodies that modulate the activity of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs, e.g. epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and AXL). The work was performed in close cooperation with the Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg. In many cancers, the RTK signaling pathways are fundamental for proliferation, survival, angiogenesis and metastasis of cancer cells. Hence, inhibition of particular RTK pathways can induce apoptosis or senescence in the tumor cells. In addition, peptide or antibody mediated activation of RTKs could be beneficial for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. This project has fostered the development of sustainable and cost-effective technologies for biopharmaceutical drug discovery, therapeutic apheresis, toxin neutralization and tissue engineering.
The project was funded by the Niederösterreichische Forschungs- und Bildungsges.m.b.H. (NFB).