Mentors: Anya Varanko, Ashutosh Chilkoti, PhD.
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) are proteins based off of tropoelastin, a subcomponent of elastin, that are able to change solubility under different temperatures. By combining these proteins with the affibodies ZEGFR and ZHER2, the proliferation of cancer can be limited much more effectively than bispecific antibodies. ELPs were combined with affibodies in E. coli plasmids to create different protein constructs, purifying the proteins using heat cycling. SK-BR-3 cancer cells positive for both EGFR and HER2 were then treated with the previous proteins to create a proliferation assay. Each construct maintained the same amount of proliferation as the control at all concentrations, resulting in no color change for the assay. This suggests that the constructs had no effect on the growth of SK-BR-3, and both affibodies were unable to block the receptors. The potential of ELPs and bispecifics still require further investigation, as it may be possible ELPs inhibit the binding of the affibodies, that ZEGFR and ZHER2 are incompatible with ELPs, or other outside factors. The use of other bispecifics, as well as maintaining temperature while performing the assay, will be explored as research in ELPs continue.