Dept of Surgery North Shore Univ. Hosp. Division of Surgical Oncology, Manhasset NY, USA; Med. Univ of South Carolina and Neogenix Oncology Inc. Great Neck NY, USA
Monoclonal antibodies developed against immunogenic proteins (Tumor Specific Antigens/TSA's) that are expressed in human cancers, display a unique behavioral pattern. They appear to serve in a dual role. This includes the early recognition of these immunogenic membrane proteins that can serve as diagnostic markers, and the targeting of such markers for the destruction of the tumor, primarily thru ADCC.
The monoclonals (mAbs) that we have developed against specific immunogenic tumor membrane proteins have been studied in detail. These tumor proteins, when first defined, were referred to as tumor associated antigens. With the ability of the mAbs to demonstrate therapeutic antitumor activity in those patients with relatively advanced malignancies, the term tumor specific was introduced. Monoclonals that we were able to develop from tumor specific proteins derived from colon and pancreas cancer were found capable of targeting those tumors to induce apoptosis. We were also able to define immunogenic membrane proteins from lung (squamous and adenoCa) as well as prostate neoplasms. Monoclonals developed from these tumor antigens are in the initial phases of investigation with regard to their specificity and antitumor activity.
Mabs capable of targeting the malignancies noted above were produced following immunization of BALBc mice with the Tumor Specific Antigens. The hybridomas that were screened and found to express the antibodies of interest appeared for the most part as IgG2a's. It became apparent after a short period of time that stability of the Fab CDR loops as well as the therapeutic efficacy of the hybridoma mAbs could be lost. Stability was achieved by chimerization and or humanization. The resulting mAbs were found to switch their isotypes to an IgG1 subsequent to chimerization and or humanization, when expressed in CHO cells. The monoclonals, so produced, were not only more efficient in controlling tumor growth but minimized the development of a HAMA response.
Because of 1) the specificity of this group of monoclonal antibodies in targeting well defined immunogenic proteins that were expressed on the tumor cell membrane,2) their lack of cross reactivity to normal tissue, 3) relatively low toxicity when delivered intravenously, 4) rapid targeting of tumor cell populations (4-6 hrs in vitro) and their 5) ability to destroy xenograft transplants (in vivo) within days of delivery, these mAbs were felt to be ideal for possible use in the treatment of patients with recurrent and or metastatic tumors.
Initial clinical studies have been planned for following the filing of an IND. It is required by FDA that the potential effects of tumor control and toxicity be defined using the naked antibodies produced under GMP conditions, In those situations where patients with recurrent malignancies are to be studied we have come to realize that a number of factors can influence the response to monoclonal therapy. This includes the amount of shed antigen in the serum at the time of treatment that could initiate immune complex formation as well as the shedding of inhibitory material into the serum possibly effecting an immune response. As such we plan to eventually employ the therapeutic mAbs in combination with chemotherapy as a means of enhancing the immunogenicity of the tumor system being treated and to possibly weaken the malignant growth for easier destruction by the mAb. We will also look at the combination of mAbs with immunostimulants such as GMCSF and IL-2 (fusion proteins) and eventual conjugation of the mAbs with alpha and possibly B-emitters to help in targeting bystander cells. The present paper reviews the potential therapeutic value of such mAbs in the treatment of recurrent malignancies, especially those having failed chemotherapy in established clinical trials.
Keywords: Monoclonal antibodies, hybridomas, chimeric antibodies, ADCC, apoptosis, tumor specific antigens (TSA).