Dr Leusen was awarded 540.000 euro from KWF for 4 years of research.
Title: IgA as next generation antibody for treatment of cancer
Background: Since 1980, monoclonal antibodies (mAb) have become the most successful class of biotech drugs to fight malignancies. An important advantage of antibody therapy is the ability to target disease markers with great selectivity. All clinically used mAb are at the moment of the IgG class. Patients respond well to mAb, but responses remain heterogeneous and often relapses occur. For more than a decade we know that IgA has a superior activity over IgG in vitro to kill tumorcells, but only recently we were able to show the efficacy of IgA in vivo.
This proposal aims to take IgA to the next level: increase the half-life, demonstrate synergy with IgG and show the versatility by not only treating solid tumors but also hematological malignancies by CD20 targeting. The Immunotherapy group of Dr. Leusen is in the unique position to do so, because her group is 1) in the possession of an IgA receptor transgenic mouse that is pivotal for these studies since mice lack the IgA receptor and 2) capable of producing and purifying IgA in large enough quantities, which was a challenge in the past, and 3) have recently shown that IgA anti EGFR can be effectively used in mice (Boross et al, EMBO MM, 2013).
Because IgA antibodies employ different effector mechanisms than IgG antibodies, these investigations will help to bring antibody therapy closer to personalized medicine and cure for cancer patients.