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A dual antibody prevents metastases in models of breast and pancreatic cancer

Researchers at Harvard University have identified an antibody that recognizes both epithelial E-cadherin and mesenchymal OB-cadherin, two proteins regulated in the opposite way during the transition that allows tumor cells to start the process of metastasis. In a triple-negative breast cancer model…


Researchers at Harvard University have identified an antibody that recognizes both epithelial E-cadherin and mesenchymal OB-cadherin, two proteins regulated in the opposite way during the transition that allows tumor cells to start the process of metastasis. In a triple-negative breast cancer model, twice-weekly treatment reduced lung metastatic burden 16 days after primary tumor resection. This reduction was manifested in both the number and size of metastases. Similar results were obtained in mice carrying a human xenograft of the same type of cancer, where the benefit occurred both at the lung and liver levels.

In a human pancreatic cancer model, treatment reduced the whole-body metastatic burden by a factor of 25 and the number of circulating tumor cells by a factor of 100. The researchers note that the antibody had no effect on primary tumor cells in either model, even at high concentrations. Daniel Haber, a scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and director of the study, underlines the harmlessness of the treatment, which lacks significant systemic toxicity, despite the fact that the cadherins he targets are present in organs with epithelial tissue. This specificity could be explained by the location of cadherins in healthy tissues, where they are distributed in the intermembrane regions, being protected from the action of the antibody. Haber points out that the conjugation of this with the active metabolite of irinotecan resulted in activity, also against the primary tumor. The presence of target cadherins in circulating tumor cells of multiple types of cancer suggests that this antibody offers significant therapeutic potential in oncology.


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