Vascular-targeting antiangiogenic therapy (VTAT) of cancer can be advantageous over conventional tumor cell targeted cancer therapy if an appropriate target is found. Our hypothesis is that endoglin (ENG; CD105) is an excellent target in VTAT. ENG is selectively expressed on vascular and lymphatic endothelium in tumors. This allows us to target both tumor-associated vasculature and lymphatic vessels to suppress tumor growth and metastasis. ENG is essential for angiogenesis/vascular development and a co-receptor of TGF-β. Our studies of selected anti-ENG monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in several animal models and in vitro studies support our hypothesis. These mAbs and/or their immunoconjugates (immunotoxins and radioimmunoconjugates) induced regression of preformed tumors as well as inhibited formation of new tumors. In addition, they suppressed metastasis. Several mechanisms were involved in the suppressive activity of the naked (unconjugated) anti-ENG mAbs. These include direct growth suppression of proliferating endothelial cells, induction of apoptosis, ADCC (antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity) and induction of T cell immunity. To facilitate clinical application, we generated a human/mouse chimeric anti-ENG mAb termed c-SN6j and performed studies of pharmacokinetics, toxicology and immunogenicity of c-SN6j in nonhuman primates. No significant toxicity was detected by several criteria and minimal immune response to the murine part of c-SN6j was detected after multiple i.v. injections. The results support our hypothesis that c-SN6j can be safely administered in cancer patients. This hypothesis is supported by the ongoing phase 1 clinical trial of c-SN6j (also known as TRC105) in patients with advanced or metastatic solid cancer in collaboration with Tracon Pharma and several oncologists (NCT00582985).
Keywords: Endoglin, CD105, Anti-endoglin antibody, vascular-targeting therapy, antiangiogenic therapy, chimeric antibody, Vascular-targeting antiangiogenic therapy, VTAT, tumor heterogeneity, Immunohistochemical (IHC), immunoliposomes, MCF-7 tumors, cyclophosphamide, oligodeoxynucleotides, c-SN6j, doxorubicin
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