Scientists inside and outside the industry debate the commercial possibility of using antibodies as enzymes
WASHINGTON - Catalytic antibodies are the stuff of Steven Benkovic's dreams. He hopes these immune system molecules, when put to work speeding up chemical reactions, will function as magic bullets to fight disease and infection.

Benkovic, a physical organic chemist at Pennsylvania State University, is not alone in his reverie. More and more scientists and their corporate cohorts are envisioning a world of pharmaceuticals, diagnostic kits, and agricultural chemicals that home in on a biological target - whether an enemy virus or the molecular bond of a useful, but frustratingly complex, protein - with an accuracy not possible with current technology.

At least three companies are in hot pursuit of catalytic antibodies, the technology expected to make such products possible. They tout the advantages - billions of antibodies to choose from; each homes in on...

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