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After Fitness Freaks, Egg Whites Now a Favourite of Docs? Study Unravels Its Potential to Treat Cancer, Parkinson's , Alzheimer's

The research was about investigating host immune responses to Amyloid fibrils, which are associated with many neurodegenerative diseases.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:June 20, 2018, 2:44 PM IST
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After Fitness Freaks, Egg Whites Now a Favourite of Docs? Study Unravels Its Potential to Treat Cancer,  Parkinson's , Alzheimer's
Representational Photo (AFP)
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New Delhi: Cracking the potential of an egg, a new study has revealed that egg whites, called ovalbumin, can help in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and can also be effective in cancer treatment when used during immuno-therapy and chemotherapy.

The research was about investigating host immune responses to Amyloid fibrils, which are associated with many neurodegenerative diseases, and these fibrils were assembled from the model protein Ovalbumin, which revealed a novel structure. Although not linked to a specific disease, albumins have been reported to form many structural aggregates.

The researcher, Dr Saba Tufail, working as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Najmul Islam, Department of Biochemistry, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University recently reported the discovery of these “novel amyloid nanostructure from chicken albumin protein and described it as having potential clinical applications.” The paper was published in the prestigious Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).

She said that the team in JNMC was interested in investigating the “host immune responses to amyloid fibrils assembled from the model protein ovalbumin,” and surprisingly, upon subjecting ovalbumin to standard denaturing conditions, they encountered giant protein nanosheets harboring amyloid-like features.

“We hypothesized that these nanosheets might have potential in clinical or therapeutic applications,” she said.

“This self-assembly of proteins into amyloids, the highly ordered nanostructures, has been associated with a variety of devastating human diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s,” she said.

What is Significant Here?

Amyloids have conventionally been found to be in the form of thread-like fibrils but this investigation found “giant amyloid nanosheets in chicken albumin” (also known as ovalbumin); Ovalbumin (OVA) is a key reference protein for vaccination experiments. Ovalbumin, the major protein constituent of chicken egg whites, is a glycoprotein that is widely used as an antigen for immunization research protein.

“I was interested in investigating host immune responses to amyloid fibrils assembled from the model protein ovalbumin. To my surprise, when I kept ovalbumin for amyloid synthesis, instead of fibril threads, I observed giant protein nanosheets harbouring amyloid-like features,” she said.

According to the researchers, this novel amyloid nanostructure may help understanding the amyloid architecture and devising better treatment strategies for diseases such Alzeimer’s and Parkinson’s and other diseases.

Applications in Combined Immunotherapy and Chemotherapy

The nanosheets are whole protein bodies, have amyloid character and extended two-dimensional structure, this way, she hypothesized that they can have applications in combined immunotherapy and chemotherapy. “We worked on this hypothesis and found that ovalbumin nanosheets evoked immune responses and their extended two-dimensional structure facilitated loading of anti-cancer drug doxorubicin,” she said.

According to the researcher, the nanosheets can certainly have applications in immunotherapy or chemotherapy and more importantly in combined immunotherapy and chemotherapy. “This is important for treatment of cancer and other diseases like TB and AIDS because in such cases immunotherapy and chemotherapy alone have not been found to be sufficient to contain the disease,” she said.

The discovery of amyloid nanosheets as combined immunotherapeutic and chemotherapeutic platform may revolutionize the treatment of cancer and other diseases where vaccines and drugs alone have failed to produce desirable results.

“We found that the nanosheets, without the administration of any additional adjuvant, which is a pharmacological or immunological agent that modifies the effect of other agents, evoked a strong antibody response in mice that was higher than that observed for native ovalbumin. This suggests that amyloid nanosheets have self-adjuvanting property,” she said.
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