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Antibody kills lung cancer cells

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http://www.mydna.com/health/lungcancer/ ... cells.html

Mon 17 Apr 2006 11:18 AM CST


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Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have developed a novel monoclonal antibody that kills lung cancer cells but leaves normal cells untouched.

Created in the laboratory of Kenneth L. Rock, M.D., a UMMS professor and chair of pathology, the antibody binds to the surface of tumor cells and initiates a process called apoptosis, which is an internal cellular mechanism that causes the cancer cells to self-destruct without affecting healthy tissue.

The antibody also helps direct other natural immune mechanisms to target and kill the tumor cells. It is particularly effective against human lung cancer cells and may have a therapeutic effect on other types of tumors.

"Lung cancer is a devastating disease, and we sorely need better, more effective therapeutics for it," Rock said. "While we still have some important work ahead of us, I believe this antibody has excellent prospects to be developed as a new therapy for lung cancer and perhaps other tumors."

The antibody, which Rock named DMF 10, has shown strong results in several studies on multiple cancer cell lines and in animal models. To further the clinical development of the antibody and to make the necessary modifications that will allow for DMF 10 to be tested in people, UMMS has partnered with EvoGenx, a Sydney, Australia-based antibody therapeutics company with offices in Mountain View, Calif. EvoGenix has licensed the rights to DMF 10, and Rock will join the company's scientific advisory board to help direct further development of the antibody.

"We are very delighted to be working with Rock and UMass Medical School," said Steffen Nock, Ph.D., president of EvoGenix USA. "We believe the data on Rock's antibody are so strong, we will work to fast-track this antibody for clinical trials."

Ironically, the first clues that the antibody DMF 10 may be a potent cancer killer was an unexpected finding for Rock's team — and one they thought was a failure. In the late 1990s, Rock and his lab were exploring the basic biology of receptors on the surface of immune system cells called T-cells. Scientists routinely use cancer cell lines in such work, because the cancer cells proliferate so robustly.

The antibody DMF 10 was first created to bind to the cell surface in hopes of yielding new data about the receptors that control the development of T cells.

"What happened was we failed to identify the receptors we were searching for but instead found an antibody that ended up killing our cell lines," Rock recalled. "Then we stepped back and started to evaluate the results and realized that we may have found something important."

Rock and his lab went on to explore the properties of the killer antibody and to see if it affected other cells or other functions that would rule it out as a potential therapeutic. In research published last year in the journal Cancer Research, Rock's team showed that DMF 10 was able to prevent the onset of lung cancer and melanoma in mice when the mice were simultaneously given the antibody and active cancer cells. The antibody also reversed the growth of established lung and melanoma tumors in mice and showed no toxic effect at all when tested on healthy mice.

"There are several important steps ahead of us to evaluate the antibody's efficacy in people," Rock said. "However, at this time, given what we understand about antibody therapies, this candidate looks very hopeful."

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), lung cancer remains the leading cancer killer in the United States among both men and women. Last year, approximately 172,000 Americans were diagnosed with lung cancer and 160,000 people died from the disease, estimates the ACS.

This information was provided by the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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