Blocking the Proliferation of B-cells in Leukemia
Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - Asaf Peer
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The research suggests that a receptor protein located on the B-cells' membrane is responsible for their 'immortality' (the subjugation of their apoptosis). The protein, named CD74, was previously found to be more active in CLL B-cells than in normal B-cells. The scientists hypothesized that it regulates the survival of the B-cells and that by having large amounts of it the cells eventually become 'immortal'. Another fact that supports this hypothesis is that the CD74 needs to bind a small protein in order to activate its “lifesaving” mechanism, and this other protein was also found in high levels in CLL B-cells. The scientists assumed that blocking the binding of these two proteins will prevent them from activating the anti-apoptotic mechanism.
Using antibodies to disable the receptor protein CD74 from binding with the other protein, the scientists achieved a soaring mortality rate of CLL B-cells. The antibodies used in the experiment are produced by the New Jersey based Immunomedics company. Up to now, the antibodies were being tested against several types of leukemia without a full understanding of the mechanism. Now that the mechanism is known, clinical trials for CLL are being planned by Immunomedics. According to Professor Shachar: “Blocking the receptor or other stages in the pathway they activate might be a winning tactic, in the future, in the war against cancers involving B cells.”
More information can be found on the Weizmann Institute website.