A research group has developed a new strategy to fight cancer. Blood vessels in the environment of tumours are killed with a new molecule which leads to the „starvation” of the tumour. Compared to currently applied treatments, this new strategy has a series of advantages.
Modern cancer therapeutics produced by biotechnological methods, often are based on antibodies. „Commonly these antibodies are used unmodified, which is – with a few exceptions – not very efficient though”, says Dario Neri of ETH Zurich. For this reason, an important trend in the development of new chemotherapeutics is to „arm” the antibodies, for example by coupling them to a cytotoxic drug, in order to increase their efficacy. The researchers developed such an antibody. They experimentally showed that cancer bearing mice survived twice as long as without treatment.
Lesser risk of resistances
Prof. Neri’s promising strategy differs from other armed antibodies currently in development with respect to several points. The macromolecules of the researchers are not directed towards the cancer cells themselves but towards newly formed blood vessels within the surroundings of the tumour. This blocks the delivery of nutrients to the tumour and inhibits its growth. This strategy has the advantage that not only single specific tumour species can be fought but theoretically all cancer species. In addition, the researchers expect that the cancer cells develop resistances against chemotherapeutics more slowly.