A team of researchers belonging to the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) has developed a state-of-the-art technology that would be able to treat cancer more efficiently. The process converts proteins and antibodies into stable, operational drug carriers that can be used to detect and kill tumor cells. Classic chemotherapy employed to treat cancer is based on toxic substances that can effectively divide cells, although, since healthy tissues also depend on cell division, treatments involving chemotherapeutic substances usually lead to various side effects.
A dose that is sufficient to remove the tumor entirely would, in several instances, be highly toxic to administer to a diseased person. By relying on more innovative approaches, it has now become possible to transport drugs in the body to a selected site. This is accomplished by linking a drug with an antibody that can distinguish cancer cells from healthy tissue through changes witnessed on the surface of the cell. Five of these Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) are readily available in the market. Though, the ACDs lose a significant part of the toxic cargo they carry before they reach the cancer cell. The substances then find their way into the bloodstream, which can lead to dangerous side effects. Thus, a stable link between drug and antibody is imperative for the success of the process. The team, led by Professor Christian Hackenberger, FMP and Professor Heinrich Leonhardt, LMU Biocenter, focused on achieving the same.
To test the effect on targeted drug delivery, the team compared their technology with FDA-approved ADC, Adcetris. They re-created the medication, as accurately as was possible using the same antibody and active agent; the sole difference was the use of the innovative phosphonamidate link. When applied to blood serum, the researchers found that their modified ADC lost considerably less active ingredients over a definite period. They also implemented the novel technology in trials with mice with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the results were better than the conventional therapeutic approaches.