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Two-Pronged Antibodies Draw Immune Killers to Cancer Cells

Aug 6, 2018 10:07:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD

T cell lymphocyte with receptors to kill cancer cell in cancer immunotherapy 3D render_shutterstock_582227638-503198-editedResearchers have developed an antibody to enhance the ability of cytotoxic T cells to target cancers cells.

The arsenal of immunotherapeutic approaches to cancer treatment is continuing to grow. Of the immune cells and molecules used to enhance the body’s ability to fight cancer, using antibodies is gaining momentum as a strategy to target cancer cells. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida have developed an antibody with two specific functions that enhance the ability of cytotoxic T cells to target cancers cells.

These bispecific or bifunctional antibodies attack cancer cells without harming healthy cells by recognizing a protein located on and unique to cancer cells, receptor tyrosine kinase ROR1. The antibodies, therefore, promote anticancer capacity in two ways, having specificity for malignant cells with ROR1 on their surface and attracting cytotoxic T cells. There are common molecular pathways in embryogenesis and cancer, and ROR1 is a protein expressed during embryogenesis, down-regulated postnatally, and later emerges in various blood cancers and malignant solid tumors. Therefore, ROR1 is a great target for anticancer antibodies.

The anticancer activity of the bispecific antibodies was found to be potent in various experiments. First, cytotoxicity of the antibodies was measured after incubating antibody-primed T cells with different cancer cells lines. Also, mouse xenograft studies were conducted in which mice were injected with lymphoma cells and later with the bispecific antibodies. Another experiment involved incubation of the antibodies with primary malignant B cells from patients with untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Measurement of cell viability in the different experiments showed significant cancer cell killing power of the bispecific antibodies. There is only one currently approved bispecific antibody for acute lymphoblastic anemia, blinatumomab. This is active in the body for about two hours, but the newly researched bispecific antibody can stay active for almost a week and does not cause systemic activation of cytotoxic T cells. The results of the study using various cancer cell types in vitro provides hope that this approach may be used in different types of cancer including solid tumors. Further animal and clinical studies with this antibody are feasible next steps to better determine its promise as a cancer immunotherapy approach.

HemaCare supports cancer research by providing a vast supply of high-quality healthy and disease cells.



Two-pronged antibodies draw immune killers directly to cancer cells. (2018). ScienceDaily. Retrieved 19 June 2018, from

Topics: Immunotherapy (Immunology)

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