A new way of killing cancer cells with antibody drugs which treat them as biological refuse has been discovered.
Researchers in the UK have found that some new antibody drugs work by engaging the garbage disposal system within cells.
But instead of ridding the cell of unwanted proteins or invading bacteria, the system goes into overdrive and kills the cancerous cell.
Until the new work, experts did not realise that antibody treatments which kill tumour cells worked in this way. The discovery could be taken further and used to develop new and more effective cancer drugs.
Almost all animal cells contain lysosomes – small pockets containing powerful acidic digestive enzymes.
They act as the cell’s garbage disposal system, by releasing the enzymes to destroy worn out cell components, ingested molecules, bacteria and viruses.
Research teams from Manchester and Southampton found that several therapeutic antibodies cause cancer cell lysosomes to swell up and burst, killing the cell.
The study, funded by the Association for International Cancer Research, looked into how antibody treatments work against leukaemia and lymphoma blood cancers. It has been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Copyright Press Association 2009