Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the immune system attacks its own organs, tissues, or joints. The Yale team previously found that naturally occurring lupus antibodies can kill cancer, and new work now shows that a lupus antibody can be altered in the lab to potentially create a new and non-toxic method of treating many cancers without causing lupus symptoms.
The team, led by Dr. James E. Hansen, assistant professor of therapeutic radiology at Yale School of Medicine, has shown that altering the antibodies to help them penetrate cancer cells and bind to DNA enables them to selectively kill tumors with defects in DNA repair. The goal is to translate this discovery into a clinically-relevant therapy for many types of cancer.
Overall, the team is optimistic that they can ultimately grow an army of antibody assassins that can exploit some cancer cells’ inherent weaknesses.
“We think we can grow an army of antibody assassins that exploit cancer cells’ inherent weaknesses,” Hansen said. “Autoantibodies are problematic in lupus, but some good will come from their existence if we can turn them against tumors and take a bite out of cancer,” Hansen said.