CONTACT: ARIANNE NARDO
8798 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: July 2,
UI Cancer Center researchers to study new treatment
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Cancer Center
researchers will begin a series of studies to determine the effectiveness
of a new treatment for lymphoma. The investigation follows a modified theme
on a well-founded cancer-fighting tactic: using the body to heal the body.
"We know that our body uses antibodies to fight infection,
so researchers have worked hard over the past two to three decades trying
to manipulate the immune system to use monoclonal antibodies to fight cancer,"
said Brian Link, M.D., UI assistant professor of internal medicine. Monoclonal
antibodies are protein components of the immune system designed to attack
and destroy tumors expressing specific molecules.
In 1997 the Food and Drug Administration approved
the use of Rituxan, the first monoclonal antibody seen as effective in treating
certain types of cancer, specifically lymphoma. Experiments with Rituxan were
done at the UI and other centers. Since that time, two monoclonal antibodies
have been approved for different types of cancer, and researchers continue
to look for ways to expand on these early successes.
The experimental program currently underway involves
using a monoclonal antibody called Hu1D10. This specific monoclonal antibody
is of interest because previous research has noted its ability to attack a
specific molecule on lymphoma cells.
The use of monoclonal antibodies to treat lymphoma
is not new to the UI Cancer Center team. In 1990 Roger Gingrich, M.D., UI
professor of internal medicine, created a new antibody called 1D10. Developed
from laboratory mice, 1D10 targeted a previously unknown molecule on lymphoma
cells. The significance of this discovery led to further investigation of
1D10 by Link and George Weiner, M.D., UI associate professor of internal medicine
and director of the UI Cancer Center. Following protein engineering improvements,
the researchers developed Hu1D10, a "humanized" version of Gingrich's antibody.
"Rituxan targets a molecule called CD20," Link said,
"We hypothesized that there are other molecules on the lymphoma cell that,
if targeted, might either add to the efficacy seen when CD20 is targeted or
might be more effective than targeting CD20."
Based on laboratory findings and animal safety studies,
Link and his colleagues are prepared to take the next step. The researchers
will conduct a series of studies at the UI General Clinical Research Center,
sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, that will test the effectiveness
of the Hu1D10 antibody in lymphoma patients. The program is a collaborative
effort between the UI Cancer Center, Cornell University in New York, and Walter
E. Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. The studies began July 1 and will continue
for six to nine months.
Investigators have a two-part focus in mind: effectiveness
and safety. The goal for researchers is to find a suitable dose that allows
them to "activate the immune system," without unnecessary side effects, Link
The outlook for the study is positive, Link said,
but he noted that if the treatment is not effective, the gain will be measured
in terms of the lessons learned during the research that bring investigators
closer to a more effective drug for lymphoma.
"This project highlights the fact that the UI Cancer
Center is a multi-dimensional institution that has the ability to take high
quality research from the laboratory bench all the way to the bedside," Link
For more information about participating in the study,
contact Brian Link, M.D.,