ProAxsis has developed a range of unique molecules, known as ProteaseTags®, which have the capacity to rapidly and selectively bind active proteases, including those which are biomarkers of diagnostic and prognostic value.
ProteaseTag® technology presents to the clinical and R&D arena a unique, cost effective and rapid method of detecting these active proteases.
Proteases are a large grouping of biological molecules that play pivotal regulatory roles in most physiological processes required for life. They act as ‘nature’s molecular scissors’, processing other biological molecules leading to the synthesis, activation or degradation of functionally important peptides and proteins. They also play a vital role in tissue remodelling and wound healing.
Unregulated protease activity (which occurs when the normal control of their action is lost) can be key triggers or amplifiers of many important human diseases such as: cancer; myocardial infarction; stroke; Alzheimer’s disease; rheumatoid arthritis; Multiple Sclerosis; chronic respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis and COPD as well as bacterial and viral infections and non-healing wounds.
Proteases are validated therapeutic targets and biomarkers of disease activity
Active proteases are established therapeutic targets (e.g. for treatment of hypertension, vascular disease, and viral infections such as hepatitis C and HIV), and are recognised as key biomarkers of several disease processes. There are however, no assay systems which can measure active proteases outside of academic research facilities.
Challenges of current assay systems
Procedures are often complex requiring skilled personnel and expensive instrumentation.
Standard methods of detection and quantification of active proteases are based on the hydrolysis of chromogenic or fluorogenic peptide substrates. Biological samples contain multiple activities with the potential to hydrolyse these substrates and are not sufficiently selective for biomarker studies.
Typical antibody-based systems e.g. ELISA (Enzyme-linked ImmunoSorbent Assay) will only detect total protein with no indication of the fraction associated with the active form of the enzyme.
ProteaseTags® rapidly provide a visual readout of active proteases in complex biological samples with a high level of specificity and selectivity. In diseases characterised by abnormal protease action ProteaseTag® test systems have the potential to be incorporated into Point of Care tests, Companion Diagnostics, and activity-based immunoassays.
By harnessing the potential of ProteaseTags® and combining them with known assay development technologies, we have produced novel and reliable assays for the routine analysis of samples.
A key feature of our system is that protease activity can be detected and measured in systems free of peptide-based substrates, hydrolysis of which is often a combination of several activities, potentially host and bacterial in samples where infection is present.
ProteaseTags® rapidly provide a visual readout of active proteases in complex biological samples with a high level of specificity and selectivity.
In diseases characterised by aberrant protease action ProteaseTag® test systems have therefore the potential for Point of Care and Companion Diagnostic applications, in addition to lab-based activity-based immunoassays.