NCKU and NRC Made
Innovative Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment Discoveries
A Taiwanese research team led by Prof.
Dar-Bin Shieh of Institute of Oral Medicine in Medical College at
National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has partnered with a research
group led by Dr. Dennis Whitefield from National Research Council
(NRC) of Canada to develop innovative cancer diagnostic and
According to Prof. Dar-Bin Shieh, the transnational team, which
consists of 7 professors from universities and Academia Sinica in
Taiwan and 4 scientists from National Research Council of Canada has
participated in the research project for nearly 6 years.
Compared to traditional nano-contrast agents that can only show the
tumor’s location roughly, an improved nano-contrast agent developed
in the first 3 years of the project can precisely locate cancer
cells through X-ray computed tomography and nuclear magnetic
resonance imaging and reveal the genetic expression profiles of the
This research achievement has been published in a 2010 issue of
internationally renowned Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS)
as its cover story.
In addition, the transnational team has verified that the single
domain antibodies of Llama in South America could be a new weapon to
fight against cancer cells. The antibody is only 1/10 of a regular
human IgG and is highly resistant to extreme environment in
temperature and pH, and could spontaneously refold back to its
functional conformation after recover from the harsh environment.
team implements the production of the antibody by virus that eats
bacteria and uses the virus platform to screen different single
domain antibodies with different binding profiles and functional
effect to the target cancer cells and amplify the desired groups of
antibody. Thus the system could support further industrial scale
production of therapeutics at low cost, and high efficiency.
Through the repetitive screening and assay, the team discovered a
class of single domain antibody targeting a specific cancer cell
membrane glycoprotein that simultaneously inhibit their growth,
neoangiogenic activity, metastasis and tumor microenvironment
modulation in the two cancer models tested – the pancreatic cancer
and the breast cancer.
This finding of possible clinical value in future cancer diagnosis
and treatment is currently undergoing patent application and
preparation for subsequent publication. The team will further
improve the single domain antibody through multi-disciplinary
approaches and to optimize its therapeutic efficacy.
“I believe the integration of nano-contrast agents and single domain
antibodies will lead to faster and more effective cancer treatment
methods in the future,” said Prof. Dar-Bin Shieh.