Washington, DC Cancer researchers at Georgetown University's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center have successfully tested a small, engineered antibody they say shuts down growth of human glioblastoma tumors in cell and animal studies. Glioblastoma is the deadliest of brain cancers; there is no effective treatment.
In the current online issue of the journal Oncogene, the researchers demonstrate how this antibody latches onto a receptor that studs the outside of glioblastoma cells, preventing a growth factor protein from binding to it and activating growth pathways in the tumors.
"We desperately need new treatments for glioblastoma, and these findings have given us hope that a new approach may be possible," says the study's lead investigator, Anton Wellstein, MD, PhD, a professor of oncology and pharmacology at Lombardi.
He adds that ALK receptors and the protein that binds to it, the growth factor pleiotrophin (PTN), are both also over-expressed in other difficult-to-treat cancers, such as melanoma and pancreatic tumors. "We have found that PTN drives metastasis of those cancers, suggesting that antibody treatment may be additionally useful in those cancers," Wellstein says.
Researchers at Lombardi/Georgetown University Medical Center have been working on this line of research since the mid 1980s, and the institution holds a patent on the "target" of the novel antibody a region on the ALK receptor. The patent also covers potential therapies. Before Wellstein joined Lombardi in 1989, he worked at the National Cancer Institute with other investigators hunting for growth factors that are secreted by cancer cells, and they eventually reported on PTN in 1992. He and his colleagues spent the next years finding PTN's receptor, which is ALK. They have since characterized the relationship between PTN and ALK, reporting in this study that many brain cancers overexpress PTN and ALK very similar to the developing brain. "When the brain is
|Contact: Karen Mallet|
Georgetown University Medical Center