Scancell and fellow UK company Celltech are to collaborate on the development of novel monoclonal antibody therapeutics targeting Lewis y/b, a new cancer target.
Lewis y/b is a cell surface carbohydrate blood group antigen whose expression is very low in normal tissue but is over-expressed on breast, lung, colon and ovarian cancer cells.
Mouse antibodies recognising Lewis y/b have induced tumour cell death and inhibited growth of various tumour cell lines. In animal studies, tumour growth was inhibited by anti-Lewis y/b antibodies alone, and a synergistic effect on cell death was seen with conventional chemotherapeutics like cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil.
Under the terms of the agreement, Scancell has granted Celltech the right to evaluate an antibody family targeting Lewis y/b, called SC101. The UK biotech group also gets an option to an exclusive worldwide licence to any products developed during the collaboration.
The SC101 antibodies are still in preclinical development, but have already demonstrated promising activity in models of cancer, according to Dr Melanie Lee, head of R&D at Celltech.