Project Title: Glycolipids as targets for therapeutic anti-tumour
monoclonal antibodies for treatment of pancreatic cancer
Research Aims: The majority of tumours have unique altered sugars (tumour glycolipids) on their cell surface that are not found on normal cells. These are important functional molecules on tumours and contribute to survival and growth of tumours. This makes them ideal targets for antibody therapy. These tumour glycolipids are normally hidden to the immune system and are therefore overlooked as potential targets.
However our studies show that antibodies to these tumour glycolipids have potent anti tumour activity. These antibodies have a number of distinct properties:
- They can directly kill tumours.
- They are potent at engaging immune effector functions to kill tumour cells.
- They synergise with chemotherapy agents.
Anti-tumour antibodies normally recognise the common proteins associated with tumour cells. We have developed a means of purifying these tumour glycolipids and adapted a screening protocol that allows us to select those antibodies that target and kill pancreatic cancer. Then by screening these antibodies for direct killing activity and their ability to synergise with chemotherapy, we can provide novel and potent therapeutics to treat pancreatic cancer.