Translating lab success to humans
With the support of a new grant from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, Temple Univeristy’s Robert W. Colman, M.D., Sol Sherry professor of medicine, is developing a new treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow plasma cells.
The treatment rests on an antibody for which Temple University and Colman own the patent.
Multiple myeloma is an incurable but treatable disease that strikes approximately 16,000 people in the United States each year. Current treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow transplant and several medications.
Scientists are very hopeful about the use of antibodies to fight cancer, known as immunotherapy, or targeted cancer therapy. Antibodies, which are naturally occurring proteins used by the immune system to fight foreign invaders like infection, already form the basis of several anti-cancer drugs, including Avastin and Herceptin.
In the lab, Colman and his team demonstrated that the antibody C11C1, when directed to the human plasma protein kininogen, inhibited the growth of several different types of cancers, including multiple myeloma. The antibody works by blocking the blood supply to the cancer tumor — in effect, starving it to death.
Needing a clinical research partner to translate this research from the lab to the clinic, Colman enlisted Louis Weiner, M.D., vice president of translational research and chairman of medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center.
Weiner also is a professor of medicine at Temple. He has used molecular biology techniques to design and engineer several new antibodies for treating cancer and will work on converting Colman’s mouse antibody into a format that is potentially more suitable for human use.
The team will conduct laboratory tests of the humanized antibody in experimental tumors in order to get it to the final steps: clinical research in patients and ultimately approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
“I’m eager to see something I’ve done have a real impact on human disease,” said Colman.
— Eryn Jelesiewicz