An international consortium led by Eduard Batlle, a scientist at the Biomedical Research Institute (IRB) in Barcelona, has discovered the MCLA-antibody158, the first drug candidate targeting solid tumor cancer stem cells that prevents the spread of cancer and its metastasis.
Batlle, head of the IRB’s Colorectal Cancer laboratory, in a collaboration with biotech company Merus N.V., have published in the journal ‘Nature Cancer’ the preclinical data that have led to the discovery of the MCLA-158 and its mechanism of action in cancer stem cells.
According to the IRB, the antibody MCLA-158 blocks the spread of cancer to other organs and stops the development of primary tumors in mice that have been implanted with tumor cells diagnosed with colon cancer. Therefore, the research lays the foundation for adding the use of organoids in the process of discovering drugs. These organoids are samples derived from patients who can develop and reproduce the behavior of a tumor.
“We started researching cancer stem cells 15 years ago. The road to get here has been exciting, but also very complex, it has required great investment of resources and the effort of many researchers. The medicine of the future begins here,” said Batlle.
According to Eduard Batlle, this antibody degrades the EGFR protein in cancer stem cells, blocking the growth and survival pathways in cells that expand cancer and develop it. ” This antibody also does not interfere with the functioning of healthy stem cells in the body, which are essential for the proper functioning of tissues,” adds Batlle. MCLA-158 is capable of blocking the onset of metastasis and cancer growth.
Another advantage is the possibility of detecting unwanted side effects of drugs on organs, using organoids originating from healthy tissue, which has allowed us to estimate the harmful effects of the drug on healthy cells and thus eliminate antibodies with greater toxicity in the earliest stages of the study.