Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
RNAi
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Weapon Fights Drug-Resistant Tumors

Published: Monday, February 03, 2014
Last Updated: Monday, February 03, 2014
Bookmark and Share
A new study from MIT reveals a way to combat recurrent tumors with a drug that makes them more vulnerable to the antibody treatment.

Cancer drugs that recruit antibodies from the body’s own immune system to help kill tumors have shown much promise in treating several types of cancer. However, after initial success, the tumors often return.

The drug, known as cyclophosphamide, is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat some cancers.

Antibody drugs work by marking tumor cells for destruction by the body’s immune system, but they have little effect on tumor cells that hide out in the bone marrow. Cyclophosphamide stimulates the immune response in bone marrow, eliminating the reservoir of cancer cells that can produce new tumors after treatment.

“We’re not talking about the development of a new drug, we’re talking about the altered use of an existing therapy,” says Michael Hemann, an assoc. prof. of biology, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and one of the senior authors of the study. “We can operate within the context of existing treatment regimens but hopefully achieve drastic improvement in the efficacy of those regimens.”

Jianzhu Chen, a prof. of immunology and a member of the Koch Institute, is also a senior author of the paper, which appears in Cell. The lead author is former Koch Institute postdoctoral researcher Christian Pallasch, now at the Univ. of Cologne in Germany.

Finding cancer’s hiding spots

Antibody-based cancer drugs are designed to bind to proteins found on the surfaces of tumor cells. Once the antibodies flag the tumor cells, immune cells called macrophages destroy them. While many antibody drugs have already been approved to treat human cancers, little is known about the best ways to deploy them, and what drugs might boost their effects, Hemann says.

Antibodies are very species-specific, so for this study, the researchers developed a strain of mice that can develop human lymphomas (cancers of white blood cells) by implanting them with human blood stem cells that are genetically programmed to become cancerous. Because these mice have a human version of cancer, they can be used to test drugs that target human tumor cells.

The researchers first studied an antibody drug called alemtuzumab, which is FDA-approved and in clinical trials for some forms of lymphoma. The drug successfully cleared most cancer cells, but some remained hidden in the bone marrow, which has previously been identified as a site of drug resistance in many types of cancer.

The study revealed that within the bone marrow, alemtuzumab successfully binds to tumor cells, but macrophages do not attack the cells due to the presence of lipid compounds called prostaglandins, which repress macrophage activity. Scientists believe the bone marrow naturally produces prostaglandins to help protect the immune cells that are maturing there. Tumor cells that reach the bone marrow can exploit this protective environment to aid their own survival.

Tricking the immune system

The MIT team then tested a variety of cancer drugs in combination with alemtuzumab and discovered that cyclophosphamide can rewire the bone marrow microenvironment to make it much more receptive to macrophages, allowing them to destroy the tumor cells hiding there.

“After you treat with cyclophosphamide you get this flux of macrophages into the bone marrow, and these macrophages are now active and very capable of consuming the targeted tumor cells,” Hemann says. “Essentially we are tricking the immune system to suddenly recognize an entity that it wouldn’t typically recognize and aggressively go after antibody-bound tumor cells.”

Following treatment with this combination of drugs, the mice survived, tumor-free, for the duration of the study—about 18 months.

Cyclophosphamide is often given to cancer patients as part of frontline chemotherapy. However, the MIT team found that when given in combination with alemtuzumab, it was effective at much lower doses than are typically given, which could help reduce side effects.

They also found that the timing of the drug delivery was critical: The antibody drug and cyclophosphamide have to be given at the same time, so that cyclophosphamide can create the right type of environment for macrophages to become activated in the bone marrow.

The researchers also got good results by combining cyclophosphamide with another antibody drug, rituximab, which is used to treat lymphoma and leukemia. They now plan to test cyclophosphamide with other types of antibody drugs, including those that target breast and prostate tumors. Both of those cancers often metastasize to the bone marrow and are very difficult to treat once they spread.

Pallasch is also planning to begin testing the alemtuzumab-cyclophosphamide combination in lymphoma patients.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

A Metabolic Master Switch Underlying Human Obesity
Researchers find pathway that controls metabolism by prompting fat cells to store or burn fat.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Identifying a Key Growth Factor in Cell Proliferation
Researchers discover that aspartate is a limiter of cell proliferation.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Firms “Under-invest” in Long-Term Cancer Research
Tweaks to the R&D pipeline could create new drugs and greater social benefit.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Nanoparticles Can Clean Up Environmental Pollutants
Researchers have found that nanomaterials and UV light can “trap” chemicals for easy removal from soil and water.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Tough biogel structures produced by 3-D printing
Researchers have developed a new way of making tough — but soft and wet — bio-compatible materials, called “hydrogels,” into complex and intricately patterned shapes.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Diagnosing Cancer with Help from Bacteria
Engineered probiotics can detect tumors in the liver.
Friday, May 29, 2015
Master Gene Regulator Could Be New Target For Schizophrenia Treatment
Researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have identified a master genetic regulator that could account for faulty brain functions that contribute to schizophrenia.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Designing Better Medical Implants
A team of MIT researchers have discovered a novel method for reducing the typical immune system rejection response when implanting biomedical devices into the body.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Brain Tumor Weakness Identified
Discovery could offer a new target for treatment of glioblastoma.
Thursday, April 09, 2015
New Nanodevice Defeats Drug Resistance
Tiny particles embedded in gel can turn off drug-resistance genes, then release cancer drugs.
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
New Nanodevice Defeats Drug Resistance
Tiny particles embedded in gel can turn off drug-resistance genes, then release cancer drugs.
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Proteins Drive Cancer Cells To Change States
When RNA-binding proteins are turned on, cancer cells get locked in a proliferative state.
Monday, December 15, 2014
New Way To Turn Genes On
Technique allows rapid, large-scale studies of gene function.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
New Device Could Make Large Biological Circuits Practical
Innovation from MIT could allow many biological components to be connected to produce predictable effects.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Fast Modeling Of Cancer Mutations
New genome-editing technique enables rapid analysis of genes mutated in tumors.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Scientific News
Microscopic Fish are 3D-Printed to do More Than Swim
Researchers demonstrate a novel method to build microscopic robots with complex shapes and functionalities.
Inciting an Immune Attack on Cancer Cells
A new minimally invasive vaccine that combines cancer cells and immune-enhancing factors could be used clinically to launch a destructive attack on tumors.
Reprogramming Cancer Cells
Researchers on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus have discovered a way to potentially reprogram cancer cells back to normalcy.
New Strategy for Combating Adenoviruses
Using an animal model they developed, Saint Louis University and Utah State university researchers have identified a strategy that could keep a common group of viruses called adenoviruses from replicating and causing sickness in humans.
Surprising Mechanism Behind Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Uncovered
Now, scientists at TSRI have discovered that the important human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, develops resistance to this drug by “switching on” a previously uncharacterized set of genes.
Fat in the Family?
Study could lead to therapeutics that boost metabolism.
Imaging Software Could Speed Up Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Researchers use high speed optical microscopy of intact breast tissue specimens to analyze breast tissue.
A Metabolic Master Switch Underlying Human Obesity
Researchers find pathway that controls metabolism by prompting fat cells to store or burn fat.
Synthetic DNA Vaccine Against MERS Shows Promise
A novel synthetic DNA vaccine can, for the first time, induce protective immunity against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in animal species.
How Small RNA Helps Form Memories
In a new study, a team of scientists at Scripps Florida has found that a type of genetic material called "microRNA" (miRNA) plays surprisingly different roles in the formation of memory in animal models.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!