About one third of osteosarcoma patients develop lung metastasis refractory to chemotherapy. Recent studies indicate that biological response modifiers activating the patients immune system may help controlling minimal residual disease via pathways distinct from those used by cytotoxic drugs, and therefore prove effective against tumor resistance. Muramyl tripeptide phosphatidylethanolamine (MTP-PE) is a synthetic lipophilic glycopeptide capable of activating monocytes and macrophages to a tumoricidal state. When intercalated in multilamellar liposomes (L-MTP-PE) and injected intravenously, it targets lung, liver, and spleen macrophages. Therapeutic activity of L-MTP-PE was demonstrated in several preclinical models of experimental lung metastasis and in clinical trials in dogs with osteosarcoma. Although macrophage activation was shown to be directly involved in the in vivo anti-metastatic activity of this molecule, cytokine and chemokine secretion by activated macrophages could induce recruitment and stimulation of other immune cells, which may in turn indirectly contribute to the anti-tumor effect. L-MTP-PE has undergone clinical development in humans. In early trials, most side effects of L-MTP-PE were minimal. L-MTP-PE showed signs of efficacy in treatment of patients with recurrent osteosarcoma and the encouraging results from phase II studies led to a phase III trial conducted by the Childrens Oncology Group in patients with newly diagnosed high-grade osteosarcoma. Patients were treated with or without L-MTP-PE in combination with multi-drug chemotherapy in adjuvant setting; significantly higher overall survival and disease-free survival were observed in the group receiving L-MTP-PE.
Keywords: Osteosarcoma, macrophages, innate immunity, muramyl peptides, liposomes, chemotherapy
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