Targeted 'click-to-release' chemotherapy gives good results in mice
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Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) are relatively new anti-cancer drugs. They consist of an antibody to which a cell-killing molecule (chemotherapy) is attached. Antibodies can recognize and bind to certain receptors (the ‘hands’ on the outside of a cell) in a very targeted way. The antibody in an ADC is designed to adhere exclusively to receptors that are characteristic of a tumor cell. The chemotherapy drug is not released until the receptor has brought the entire structure into the cell, and then the chemotherapy drug can do its job.

ADCs are currently already used for the treatment of lymphoma and metastatic breast cancer. “These ADCs work very well,” says Marc Robillard of Tagworks Pharmaceuticals, a company based at Radboud university medical center. “But for many other tumors, including colon cancer and ovarian cancer, this method is not yet applicable. The problem is that there are not many suitable cancer-specific receptors that automatically drag such an ADC into the cell, and if the ADC gets stuck on the outside, the chemotherapy drug will not be released and therefore can’t do its job.”

Chemotherapy drug released

It is vital to ensure that the chemotherapy drug is also released if the ADC remains

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