23 March 2012

Antibodies for cancer treatment: hopes are beginning to be justified

The bright future of targeted therapy

Weekly Pharmacy www.apteka.ua

Experts from the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center believe that drugs intended for targeted therapy of patients with oncological diseases, once called miraculous, are beginning to justify this title.

So, on March 16, a review article (Weiner et al., Antibody-Based Immunotherapy of Cancer – VM) was published in the journal "Cell" about the prospects of using drugs containing modified monoclonal antibodies. Previously, their effectiveness in the treatment of breast and rectal cancer, as well as B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, was revealed. Now, the authors note that as a result of the genetic engineering modification of these drugs, they can be used to treat a number of other oncological diseases.

"We are entering an era when antibodies will not only be separate components of an effective therapeutic strategy, but will become a key link in the treatment of a patient with oncological pathology," said Louis M. Weiner, director of the Georgetown Lombardi Center for Comprehensive Cancer Research, author of the article and an expert in the field of immunotherapy research (Bright Future Ahead for Antibody Cancer Therapy – VM).

Recall that targeted therapy is the selective binding of monoclonal antibodies to tumor cell receptors. This allows you to purposefully act only on target cells and minimize the risk of damage to healthy body tissues. As L. Weiner notes, it is now possible to increase the effectiveness of such monoclonal antibodies due to genetic engineering modification and the creation of structures capable of binding to several receptors of one cell or several cells at once, as well as acting as a carrier of other chemical compounds that can destroy tumor cells.

"Modern technologies allow us to create more effective drugs," said Lombardi, director of the Georgetown Center for Comprehensive Cancer Research. – For example, representatives of the class of bispecific antibodies (bispecific antibodies) can simultaneously bind to 2 different antigens of a tumor cell and block several signaling pathways that ensure its vital activity. In addition, some of them can additionally bind to immunocompetent cells from the tumor microenvironment with further activation of their work."

L. Weiner also noted that drugs are being developed that not only affect the immune response, but also have a cytotoxic effect. Thus, specialists create conjugates, which are a complex of monoclonal antibodies with radionuclides, other drugs, toxins and enzymes that have a more pronounced effect on the tumor cell. Currently, work is also underway to increase the ability of antibodies to penetrate into the tumor cell and bind not only to external, but also intracellular antigens.

"The effectiveness of many drugs with a similar mechanism of action in relation to the treatment of all kinds of solid tumors is being studied now. According to oncologists, scientists and representatives of pharmaceutical companies, the results of the research look promising," said Director of the Georgetown Center for Comprehensive Cancer Research Lombardi.

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