Researchers at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute have developed the MCLA-158 antibody, the basis of the first specific drug against cancer stem cells, which can slow the growth of tumors and block the appearance of metastases.
This is one of the most significant advances in cancer research. “The MCLA-158 Antibody Blocks the Spread of Cancer to Other Organs and Slows the Growth of Primary Tumors in Mice Implanted with Tumor Cells from Colon Cancer Patients“, this is the result found by the IRB Barcelona team, in collaboration with the Dutch company Merus NV.
This consortium has just made a major discovery in the fight against cancer by developing the basis of a drug that would thus block the growth and metastasis of cancer.
The research results were published this Monday in the journal Nature Cancer and talk about the discovery of the MCLA-158 antibody.
Preclinical data indicate that the MCLA-158 antibody exhibits potent growth inhibition of colorectal cancer organoids, blocks metastasis initiation and cancer growth in different tumor models including head and neck, esophagus and stomach.
The results very clearly show the cessation of metastasis formation. “In mice treated with this antibody against cancer stem cells, metastases do not appear“, underlines Eduard Batlle, researcher of the IRB Barcelona. “Removing tumor stem cells may increase the effectiveness of treatments and reduce the risk of metastases”he continues.
And to add:Therefore, it may be effective in the future to prevent the occurrence of metastases in patients with localized disease..”
But the test for this antibody, published in Nature Cancer, was not only performed on experimental models, but also on 7 patients with head and neck cancer.
In the trial, all patients saw their tumors shrink, 3 achieved partial remissions and one achieved complete remission. In all the cases tested, these are very common tumors and some have a very poor prognosis at the moment.
The study reveals that this antibody prevents the occurrence of metastases (ie the spread of cancer to other vital organs) and slows the growth of primary tumors in experimental models of cancer.
Specifically, it has been tested for cancers of the colon, head and neck, esophagus and stomach, but researchers hope it could be “also useful in the treatment of other types of tumors”as Eduard Batlle explains.
MCLA-158: A dual action antibody
Antibodies are proteins that our body produces naturally to recognize infectious agents or damaged cells so that they can be eliminated by the immune system’s lymphocytes, white blood cells.
The MCLA-158 antibody is able to recognize two different proteins on the surface of cancer stem cells, which are the ones that promote the uncontrolled growth of cancer and its spread.
Concretely, the antibody degrades one of these proteins and this blocks the growth and survival pathways of cancer stem cells, but it also acts against the cells that allow the tumor to proliferate in other organs.