MultiCell drug tackles virally-induced cancers

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cancer

MultiCell Therapeutics, a recent US spin-out, has designed an
anticancer therapy that has been shown in animal models to
completely destroy malignant tumours, even when very advanced.

The therapy has shown particular promise in targeting tumours caused by viruses, such as cervical cancer and leukaemia. Viral cancers tend to evade the scrutiny of the immune system, even though they tend to express foreign antigens, and MultiCell's approach brings them out of hiding.

The therapy combines a toll-like receptor agonist called MCT-465, designed to increase the immune system's ability to recognise and respond to tumour antigens, with MultiCell's tumour-targetting Ig-peptide (IgNP) technology.

Ig-peptides act like a piece of Velcro between the immune system and the cancer. Using this technology, antigen presenting cells are loaded with tumour antigen and modified to carry a binding site for T cells.

This helps the T cells identify the cancerous cells and kill them, but on its own this is not enough: to restore a full-blown immune response the antigen presenting cells need to be stimulated into action using MCT-465.

Because the tumour cells are killed by the body itself, this approach should lead to fewer side-effects than traditional chemotherapy treatments. At the moment, cervical cancer is commonly treated with either cisplatin or topotecan often in conjunction with either radiotherapy or hysterectomy.

"We believe these experimental results represent a potentially valuable breakthrough in cancer treatment. Several cancers, such as cervical cancer, are induced by viruses, and are able to overpower the immune system and spread throughout the body,"​ stated Dr. Stephen Chang, MultiCell's chief executive.

"The most exciting aspect of our work is we administered MCT-465 and IgNP after the tumour had grown to a very large size in the animal, and observed complete destruction of the tumor by the animal's immune system. We were able to overcome cancer's ability to hide from detection by the immune system. We believe that the implications for this work are far-reaching and could someday help treat the millions of patients suffering from various cancers."

MCT-465 has also been shown to reduce the levels of HIV and hepatitis C virus in animal models and has recently been nominated as Multicell's leading drug candidate for Avian bird flu.

Related topics Preclinical Research

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