A world-first antibody-drug delivery system

This benefit can become a new medical tool to target specific diseases.


It would be fantastic if some crystal could be attached to antibodies and charged with potent drugs or imaging agents to find the diseased cell with high precision to reduce side effects on the patient.

Now, researchers from the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases at Monash University have precisely developed this in collaboration with the TU Graz (Austria).

They have developed the first metal-organic framework(MOFs) antibody-drug delivery system. This system has the potential to expedite potent new therapies for cancer.

The metal-organic framework, a mixture of metal (zinc) and carbonate ions, and a small organic molecule (an imidazole, a colorless solid compound soluble in water) keep the payload attached to the antibody and can also act as a reservoir of personalized therapeutics.

This benefit can become a new medical tool to target specific diseases with customized drugs and optimized doses.

The in vitro study showed that when MOF antibody crystals bind to their target cancer cells and, if exposed to the low pH in the cells, they break down, delivering the drugs directly and solely to the desired area.

The findings are now published in the world-leading journal Advanced Materials.

Co-senior author Professor Christoph Hagemeyer, Head of the Nanobiotechnology Laboratory at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases, Monash University, says. At the same time, more funding is needed to take the research into the next phase, and to patients, the new method is cheaper, faster, and more versatile than anything available currently.

“The method offers the opportunity to personalize treatment and, given the precision possible, may eventually change the current dosage needed for patients, resulting in fewer side effects and making treatments cheaper,” said Professor Hagemeyer.

Co-first author Dr. Karen Alt, Head of the NanoTheranostics Laboratory at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases, Monash University, says: “With just 0.01 per cent of chemotherapy currently reaching the cancer tissue, this revolutionary new method can boost the potency of the drugs reaching their target.”

“With over 80 different monoclonal antibodies approved for clinical use, this approach has enormous potential to improve these antibodies for the targeted delivery of diagnostic agents and therapeutic drugs. The goal is that ultimately the clinical translation of this technology will improve the quality of life for patients suffering from serious diseases,” said Dr. Alt.

Journal Reference

  1. Karen Alt, Self-Assembly of Oriented Antibody-Decorated Metal-Organic Framework Nanocrystals for Active Targeting Applications. Advanced Materials Paper DOI: 10.1002/adma.202106607


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