New class of antibody cancer drug shows promise

IgE antibodies

A Cancer Research UK-funded clinical trial has shown, for the first time, that a new class of antibody could benefit cancer patients whose existing treatments have stopped working.

The Phase I clinical trial, sponsored and managed by Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development, tested whether an IgE antibody could be used to treat cancer. The drug, MOv18 IgE, was developed by researchers at King’s College London.

Currently, all antibodies approved for the treatment of cancer belong to a class known as IgG. Compared to IgG, IgE offers potential for enhanced immune system targeting of and potency against tumours, providing a more powerful weapon against cancer cells.

Results from the trial, published in Nature Communications, found that MOv18 IgE was well-tolerated in the majority of patients and was able to shrink the tumour of a patient with ovarian cancer who had not responded to conventional therapy.

Dr Nigel Blackburn, Director of Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development, said: “We’re incredibly proud to have played a pivotal role in bringing the first ever IgE antibody into clinical trials. What’s interesting about IgE is its involvement in our body’s defence against parasites and the particularly powerful immune response it elicits. We hope that through further trials, we will see it successfully target cancer cells with the same voracity, opening up an entirely new treatment option for patients.”

With the safety of MOv18 IgE having been established in cancer patients, biotechnology company Epsilogen has licensed the drug and will continue its clinical development.

Dr Tim Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Epsilogen, commented: “The data published in Nature Communications, are encouraging and add further validation to support our belief that IgE antibodies have the potential to emerge as an entirely new treatment modality for patients with cancer.”

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