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Antibody in Trial to Fight Blood Cancers to be Tested on Mesothelioma

Cancer cellsMesothelioma patients will soon have access to a new treatment through a clinical trial thanks to a recent discovery by Australian researchers. The researchers found a way to shut down a tumor’s “life support system” by using an antibody to attack the protein Epha3.

A team of researchers from Australia found that by targeting Epha3, found in blood vessels and the supporting tissues around malignant tumors, with the KB004 antibody, they starved the cancer cells causing them to die. KB004, developed by KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of San Francisco, CA, is currently in clinical trials for blood cancers, including leukemia, in the U.S. and Australia.

Other studies have shown that antibodies can trigger a patient’s immune system to fight off infection or employ the body’s own defenses to fight off cancer.

The researchers found that even if tumor cells did not contain Epha3, they actually recruited Epha3 cancer cells from the tumor “micro-environment” so the cancer could thrive and continue to grow.

“We have shown that EphA3 expressing stromal stem cells, which are produced by the bone marrow, form cells that support and create blood vessels in tumors,” said Dr. Mary Vail, Monash Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

They also found EphA3 expression on stromal cells and newly forming blood vessels in prostate, colon, breast, brain and lung cancers. This led the researchers to realize that the tumor micro-environment, the cells surrounding the tumors, is critically important, and targeting Epha3 can kill blood cancers and solid tumors.

“We are moving forward with plans for clinical trials where we will treat patients with solid tumours within 12 months,” said Andrew Scott , Professor Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

According to the Herald Sun, once funding is obtained, clinical trials could be fast-tracked. The team plans to begin with trials for glioblastoma and mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is an incurable, asbestos-caused cancer of the membranes that surround many of the body’s vital organs. The most common form, as many as 80 percent of all diagnoses, is pleural mesothelioma, where the cancer attacks the pleural tissue surrounding the lung. The cancer is highly aggressive and is resistant to many cancer treatments making it a difficult disease to treat effectively.

Clinical trials may offer the best available treatment as well as the opportunity to receive new, potentially more effective therapies.

The Herald Sun
Cancer Research
Ludwig Cancer Research
KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 7 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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