Forty patients from the cities of Barcelona, Spain, New York, USA, and Toronto, Canada, began testing a new drug that prevents tumor cells they expand and cause metastasis or relapse and that activates the autoimmune system to reduce the tumor.
The new drug, developed in the Barcelona hospital Vall d'Hebrón, blocks LIF, a cytokine (protein that regulates the function of the cells that produce them on other cell types) present in many tumors, which promotes the proliferation of tumor stem cells, in addition to deactivating the alarm of the immune system.
The Innovative drug, called MSC-1, whose development reports on Tuesday the magazine “Nature Communications”, was successfully tested on animal models.
The researcher who led the development of this new drug, Joan SeoaneHe was able to do so because his team was the first to relate LIF to cancer and show that if they blocked it, tumor stem cells were eliminated, preventing the reappearance of tumors.
“We have discovered that LIF deactivates the alarm system so that the cells of the immune system do not arrive, as if a thief deactivated the alarm system of a bank so that the police would not arrive, “said Dr. Seoane.
According to the oncologist, “the drug generates a high response that completely removes the tumor and generates an 'immune memory', which means that the system is already trained to avoid relapses. “
However, he said: “There are still several years until this drug can reach all patients because we are in the first phase of the clinical trial. Now we will study the efficacy of the drug and how it can be combined with others. “
The oncologist also explained that this new drug is not valid for all types of cancer, but only for those who express a high level of LIF, such as glioblastomas, pancreatic, ovarian, lung and prostate cancer, which are usually the most aggressive and have the worst prognosis.
The medication, which has exceeded all successful preclinical phases, it induces the infiltration of the T cells of the immune system into the tumors to attack them and eliminate them, and the first phase I clinical trial has already begun with 40 patients who are being treated with inhibitors of LIF at the Vall d'Hebron Hospital (Barcelona), the Sloan Kettering (New York) and the Princess Margaret (Toronto).
Dr. Seoane's team observed that LIF inhibits the CXCL9 gene, which acts as a signal to attract T cells of the immune system, “and we have seen that blocking LIF in tumors with high levels of LIF reactivates the call to T cells, which reach the tumor to destroy it,” the oncologist said.
Seoane He said that they are “very proud because, from understanding what was wrong, we have been able to design and develop a drug that has reached more than 40 patients who are already testing it”.
“There are not many cases of a drug developed in Barcelona that reaches the international clinical trial level and in hospitals of this caliber, which are among the best in the world,” he added.
Seoane, who thanked the funding of the European Research Council (ERC) and the support of the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) and other institutions, said that “the combination of inhibition of LIF together with immunotherapy generates a powerful antitumor response” .
After years of seeing the potential of LIF as a therapeutic target in experimental models, Seoane founded Mosaic Biomedicals, a company derived from VHIO born to develop and transfer new oncological treatments as quickly as possible to patients.