A relatively new approach that is transforming cancer treatment is using antibodies to boost the immune system’s ability to tackle disease.
A new study found that the shape of an antibody can make a big difference to the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy. The study’s findings were reported in the journal Cancer Cell.
The study is part of growing research in the field of cancer immunotherapy at the University of Southampton.
According to researchers, a particular naturally occurring antibody called IgG2 is much more effective at stimulating the immune system to fight cancer than other types of antibody.
The immune system provides a natural protection against cancer which can only grow by finding a way around its defenses. Doctors have engineered antibody treatments that are now able to correct this issue for many types of cancer, but they still need to be perfected.
IgG2 is unique among antibodies because it can work on its own without the help for other immune cells. This characteristic makes it more active and effective in all tissue types.
Researchers found that a version of the antibody IGG2B is particularly effective at stimulating antitumor immunity because it has what is known as a “locked B structure.”
Researchers also discovered that antibodies could be engineers to have this particular shape, therefore opening the door to making stronger immune stimulators than previous drugs.
Unfortunately, researchers are still unsure of the reason why IgG2 works better in a locked B structure.
To better understand the structure they have crystallized the molecule and shone X-rays through it. To their knowledge, this is the first time anyone has crystallized IgG2.
Although this is only the beginning stages, a discovery like this could enable doctors to treat cancer much more effectively.
The next task is to bring these IgG2B antibodies into trials for cancer patients, researchers are currently working on engineering ways to make them effective in the clinic.