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Ovarian cancer: Scientists find a way to launch dual attack.

ISLAMABAD -- Hitting two targets on the cancer cell could greatly increase the power of antibody therapy to kill ovarian cancer. Antibody therapy is a type of immune therapy, or immunotherapy that uses enhanced antibodies to identify disease targets and then kill them or summon immune cells to kill them. Its success in treating ovarian cancer and other solid tumours, however, has been somewhat limited. A reason for this is the hostile microenvironment of the tumour, which makes it hard for antibodies designed to kill cancer cells to reach them. Now, scientists at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine in Charlottesville have developed an approach that looks set to overcome this barrier. They describe their "single-agent dual-specificity targeting" method for ovarian cancer in a study paper that features in the journal Cancer Cell. The approach uses a "two-pronged" antibody that hits two targets on the ovarian cancer cell. One target is a protein called folate receptor alpha-1 (FOLR1), which is highly expressed in ovarian cancer. The antibody uses this target to home in on the cancer cell and "anchor" itself to it.

The other target is another protein called death receptor 5. By binding to this protein, the antibody activates cell death. "There are a lot of efforts," says study senior author Jogender Tushir Singh, who is an assistant professor in biochemistry and molecular genetics, "in terms of cancer immune therapy, but the success of these are really limited in solid tumours." Antibody therapies are immunotherapies that antibodies that are highly skilled at finding and attaching themselves to specific substances on cancer cells. For this reason, they are also called "targeted therapies."

Some of these therapies use the antibodies as markers so that other immune cells can more easily spot their targets and destroy the cancer cells. Others - such as the type that Tushir-Singh and team decided to work on - use antibodies that can also stop the cells dividing or even kill them. There is also another type that uses the antibodies to ferry drugs to the tumour cells. Ovarian cancer forms solid tumours, meaning that the malignant growths do not usually contain liquid or cysts. Other examples of this cancer type include breast cancer and prostate cancer. Solid tumours pose a big challenge to antibody therapies because they have microenvironments whose conditions, such as low oxygen, make it difficult for immune cells to survive and do their work.


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Publication:The Messenger (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Sep 5, 2018
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