London: Scientists have developed 10 new antibodies that starve tumours of oxygen and can help in the battle against cancer.
They work by inhibiting the body’s blood vessel formation close to the tumour, which is thereby cut off from oxygen and nutrient supply. Up to now, the researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark have tested some of the antibodies on mice and, in the laboratory, they have succeeded in using them to stop the development of malignant tumours.
“The antibodies we’ve found prevent a cancer tumour from growing. They appear to work perfectly in the laboratory, and this means, of course, that they’ve got incredibly interesting therapeutic potential that we’ll investigate further. However, we’re still quite early in the experimental stage,” said Associate Professor Peter Kristensen.
The antibodies neutralise the effects of signal substances released by carcinoma cells to get blood vessels to replicate, thus cutting off the blood supply to the tumour. A cancer tumour deprived of oxygen and nutrients becomes dormant and is thereby made harmless. If it receives a supply from the bloodstream, however, it grows and spreads, and the researchers appear to be able to prevent this deadly process.
A small number of therapeutic antibodies already exist, some of which have the same effect as the antibodies developed by the researchers. However, the existing antibodies are extremely expensive to produce. The new antibodies are easier to extract, and they also appear to be more effective because they hit other – and possibly stronger – signal molecules from the cancer cells.
The demand for therapeutic antibodies for cancer treatment is steadily increasing. The researchers isolated their antibodies from a library consisting of billions of different antibodies, and they subsequently analysed the ability of the individual antibodies to inhibit blood vessel formation. This sounds like incredibly extensive laboratory work,
and it would have been far from possible just a few years ago. However, they used a biological technology for this purpose that they developed.