UC Davis team finds new lung cancer Rx target

A protein that sits on top of lung cancer cells appears to be a major new drug target, University of California, Davis, researchers have found. What's more, they backed up their thesis by developing a drug that appeared to reduce tumors in mice after hitting the specific target in mind.

The protein in question--CD22--isn't new to the scientists. As the researchers explain, they previously found that the cell adhesion molecule resides on lymphocytes, which they believe makes it a drug target in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (where B cells grow in overabundance). They even developed a monoclonal antibody dubbed HB22.7 that appears to beat back the disease in mice. To their surprise, they determined that CD22 can also be found on most lung cancer cell lines. And in mouse testing, they determined that HB22.7 helped slow the growth of lung cancer tumors, delay metastasis and boost cancer survival time.

It is always good news when researchers identify a new drug target for cancer and even better when they develop a potential compound with which to target it. But the scientists are years away from treating humans, and there is a risk that they won't replicate the results in humans, or that the treatment carries unacceptable side effects. But they are already looking at advancing their project. Moving ahead, the UC Davis team is preparing HB22.7 for human clinical trials. The initial treatment was derived from mice, and so they are now modifying the drug's protein sequences so they more closely resemble human-produced antibodies.

For more details about the study, check out the November issue of the journal Cancer Research.

- read the release
- here's the journal abstract