It is thought that the unique IgNAR antibodies could be used to prevent the growth of cancer cells and research into them could lead to the development of new drugs to fight the most common form of the disease in the UK.
Biologists from the University of Aberdeen have been awarded £200,000 by Scottish cancer research charity the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) to carry out a three-year study.
Their work will focus on two molecules, HER2 and HER3, found on the surface of cancer cells, which signal cancer cells to grow and divide. Potentially, IgNAR antibodies could be used to stop these molecules from sending the signal.
Dr Helen Dooley from the university's School of Biological Sciences will lead the study. She said: "IgNAR antibodies bind to targets, such as viruses or parasites, in a different way to the antibodies found in humans."
Dr Dooley added: "We can begin to explore the potential of IgNAR as a future treatment for breast cancer.
"This is only the first step in a very long process but if our hypothesis holds true we hope to develop new anti-cancer drugs based upon these unique shark antibodies."