Scientists from La Trobe’s Institute of Molecular Science (LIMS) and biotechnology company AdAlta Limited developed a new drug based on a shark protein. The drug, AD-114, was able to reduce fibrosis in the lung and liver after 14 and 21 days of treatment.

The drug is a humanized version of the Wobbegong shark protein called i-body.  The scientists hope that this drug will help the increasing number of people diagnosed with fibrosis.

“We believe that AD-114 has the potential to be a new treatment for pulmonary fibrosis, a respiratory disease which results in scarring of the lung tissues,” said AdAlta CEO Sam Cobb. “Current therapies for pulmonary fibrosis are considered sub-optimal and there is a high-unmet medical need. AD-114 now has strong pre-clinical results for pulmonary fibrosis, demonstrating both anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory activity in human lung tissue and indicating greater efficacy than existing approved drugs used to treat the disease.”

The researchers say that the drug’s anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties worked by reducing the accumulation of collagen in the lungs, which can cause shortness of breath and even death in those who suffer from the condition that still has no cure. As of now, the treatments for lung fibrosis that are currently employed have little impact, the research team adds.

Mick Foley, an associate Professor at LIMS and AdAlta’s Chief Scientific Officer, added that AdAlta’s breakthrough could save lives. He adds that the drug could even pave the way for treating other forms of fibrosis.

“To the average person sharks are a creature to steer clear of, but in the scientific world treatments based on shark antibody have the potential to save lives,” stated Foley. “In the future we think the humanized i-body, AD-114, may also be a suitable drug to treat other forms of fibrosis found in the liver, skin, eyes, heart and kidneys.”