Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New monoclonal antibody developed that can target proteins inside cancer cells

Researchers have discovered a unique monoclonal antibody that can effectively reach inside a cancer cell, a key goal for these important anticancer agents, since most proteins that cause cancer or are associated with cancer are buried inside cancer cells.

Scientists from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Eureka Therapeutics have collaborated to create the new human monoclonal antibody, which targets a protein associated with many types of cancer and is of great interest to cancer researchers.

Unlike other human therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, which can target only proteins that remain on the outside of cancer cells, the new monoclonal antibody, called ESK1, targets a protein that resides on the inside of the cell.

ESK1 is directed at a protein called WT1, which is overexpressed in a range of leukemias and other cancers including myeloma and breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancers. WT1 is a high priority target for cancer drugs because it is an oncogenic protein, meaning that it supports the formation of cancer. In addition, it is found in few healthy cells, so there are less likely to be side effects from drugs that target it.

"This is a new approach for attacking WT1, an important cancer target, with an antibody therapy. This is something that was previously not possible," said David A. Scheinberg, MD, PhD, Chair of the Sloan-Kettering Institute's Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry Program and an inventor of the antibody. "There has not been a way to make small molecule drugs that can inhibit WT1 function. Our research shows that you can use a monoclonal antibody to recognize a cancer-associated protein inside a cell, and it will destroy the cell."

The first studies of the antibody are showing promise in preclinical research as a treatment for leukemia as reported March 13, 2013, in Science Translational Medicine.

"ESK1 represents a paradigm change for the field of human monoclonal antibody therapeutics," said Cheng Liu, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eureka Therapeutics. "This research suggests that human antibody therapy is no longer limited to targeting proteins present outside cancer cells, but can now target proteins within the cancer cell itself."

ESK1 was engineered to mimic the functions of a T cell receptor, a key component of the immune system. T cells have a receptor system that is designed to recognize proteins that are inside the cell. As proteins inside the cell get broken down as part of regular cellular processes, molecules known as HLA molecules carry fragments of those proteins — known as peptides — to the surface. When T cells recognize certain peptides as abnormal, the T cell kills the diseased cell.

In the current study, the investigators showed that ESK1 alone was able to recognize WT1 peptides and kill cancer cells in the test tube and also in mouse models for two different types of human leukemia. "We were surprised that the antibody worked so well on its own," said Dr. Scheinberg, senior author of the paper. "We had originally expected that we might need to use the antibody as a carrier to deliver a drug or a radioactive therapy to kill the cancer cells, but this was not necessary."

Additional studies must be done in the laboratory before ESK1 is ready to be tested in patients. But the monoclonal antibody was engineered to be fully human, which should speed the time it takes to move the drug into the clinic. Researchers expect that the first clinical trials, for leukemia, could begin in about a year.

The antibody was developed under a collaborative effort between Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Eureka, which have jointly filed for patent protection.

This work was supported by grants from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Sloan-Kettering Institute's Experimental Therapeutics Center and Technology Development Fund, the Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research, the Tudor and Glades Foundations, the Merker Fund, the Lymphoma Foundation, and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

About Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is the world's oldest and largest private institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research, and education in cancer. Our scientists and clinicians generate innovative approaches to better understand, diagnose, and treat cancer. Our specialists are leaders in biomedical research and in translating the latest research to advance the standard of cancer care worldwide. For more information, go to

About Eureka Therapeutics

Eureka Therapeutics is a privately held biotechnology company located in the San Francisco Bay Area, focused on the discovery of fully-human antibody drugs for the treatment of cancer. Utilizing its antibody drug discovery and engineering technologies, Eureka is advancing safe and effective therapies for targeting previously inaccessible cancer antigens. The company has built an early stage pipeline of innovative drugs, with the most advanced candidate at pre-clinical stage in collaboration with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. For more information about Eureka Therapeutics, please visit:

Caitlin Hool | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>