Every year tens of thousands of oncologists, cancer researchers, investors and others involved in the cancer field gather at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting. The latest and most exciting cancer research results are presented at the conference and this gives a glimpse into where the field may be headed.
The presentations at ASCO range from very early stage preclinical data to results of ongoing clinical trials.
This year a small non-profit cancer research foundation, Cancer Antibodies Inc, will be presenting the results of a study that could fundamentally change the way cancer drugs are developed.
Most current cancer treatments cause damage to normal cells and result in significant pain and suffering by the patient. Even targeted drugs often still cause harm to normal cells, which is why commercials for cancer treatments have a list of possible side effects a mile long.
The breakthrough being presented by Cancer Antibodies Inc. involves a new platform for finding unique targets on the surface of cancer cells that are not found on normal cells.
All cells, including cancer cells, have areas on the cell surface that are known as antigens.
An epitope is the part of the antigen to which antibodies bind. If unique cancer-specific surface antigens or epitopes (oncotopes) are found, they can be targeted for the precision killing of cancer.
Until now, finding antigens that are present on the surface of cancer cells and not on normal cells has proven to be extremely difficult.
The process often takes many years and a relative few have actually been found. Most that have been found turn out to be overexpressed, meaning they appear in greater numbers on cancer cells but are not truly unique to the cancer.
This new method offers the ability to find multiple cancer specific surface antigens, within a matter of months, that when targeted result in the selective killing of cancer cells without harming normal cells.
The main challenges to finding a cure for cancer are that, as mentioned, traditional cancer treatment strategies affect normal cells leading to often debilitating side effects. In addition, as the cancer grows and spreads, the tumor cell DNA mutates further making targeted molecular therapies ineffective.
An abstract outlining the results of the study was published by ASCO on May 26, 2022 and demonstrates a way to address both of these challenges.
Unique cancer specific surface antigens are found and targeted while normal cells are not affected. If cancer cells mutate, the technique can be utilized to find new targets on the newly mutated cancer cells.
Highlights from the abstract include:
- Antibodies generated against a specific type of cancer can kill those cancer cells without harming normal cells from the same tissue type and the same person.
- These antibodies against one person's cancer can kill the same cancer type from a different person.
- These antibodies surprisingly can also kill cancer cells of a different type than the kind they were derived against.
- Antibodies generated against one person's cancer do not harm normal cells from a different person.
- The platform can generate antibodies against a variety of cancers.
The ASCO Annual Meeting runs from June 3 - 7. Researchers from Cancer Antibodies Inc. will be presenting their results on June 5.
To learn more about their research or to support the cause, visit https://www.cancerantibodies.com