Nav: Home

New antibody appears to re-activate immune system in cancer therapy

June 28, 2017

DURHAM, N.C. -- Adding an investigational antibody to the chemotherapy rituximab appears to restore its cancer-killing properties in certain leukemia patients with a natural resistance to the drug, according to a small, proof-of-concept study by Duke Cancer Institute researchers.

The study, published June 28 in the journal PLOS ONE, tested the new antibody in the blood of 11 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This lays the groundwork for a phase 1 clinical trial this is slated to begin next year.

"This work builds on earlier findings that some patients are naturally resistant to the chemotherapy drug rituximab," said senior author Edward F. Patz, Jr., M.D., the James and Alice Chen Professor of Radiology at Duke. Patz is also professor in the departments of Pathology and Pharmacology & Cancer Biology. "The drug works in part through an immune mechanism that triggers cancer cells to die. In some people, this immune mechanism is de-activated. Our antibody basically re-activates it."

In earlier studies, Patz and colleagues identified an antibody against a protein called complement factor H, or CFH, which works to protect cells. Patz's team found that people who have the antibody have a natural capacity to fight cancer, since the antibody basically shuts off a cancer cell's security system and makes it more vulnerable to drugs or immune fighters.

One of the drugs this antibody could potentially aid is rituximab, which is used to treat leukemia, but in some patients it only has limited effect. To test that approach, Patz and colleagues first determined whether the 11 leukemia patients were sensitive to rituximab based on an analysis of their leukemic cells in their blood. Ten of the 11 patients were determined to be non-responders when the tumor cells were challenged with rituximab.

But when the investigational CFH antibody was added to rituximab, five of the 11 patients (45 percent) had a significant increase in cancer cell death.

"This is a combination approach, and it appears to strip away immune protection of cancer cells," Patz said. "Patients who had been rituximab resistant became rituximab sensitive."

Patz said the antibody was developed in his lab and has been licensed by Duke to Grid Therapeutics; he is a co-founder and has a financial interest in the company. The planned phase 1 clinical trial of the antibody will first target advance solid tumors, including lung, breast and colon cancers.
-end-
In addition to Patz, study authors include Mark T. Winkler, Ryan T. Bushey, Elizabeth B. Gottlin, Michael J. Campa, Eross S. Guadalupe, Alicia D. Volkheimer and J. Brice Weinberg.

Duke University Medical Center

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...