Common methods of cancer therapy largely rely on either direct killing of cancer cells or activation of the host immune response to do so, but not both. A recently developed treatment of tumors uses an antibody/photo-absorber, Ab-IR700, with near infrared photoimmunotherapy (NIR-PIT), to selectively kill IR700-bound and NIR-light-exposed cancer cells by activating an immunogenic cell death pathway. NIR-PIT has been shown in human clinical trials to effectively target tumor cells via a host immune response with relatively few side effects. However, the depth of NIR-light penetration in vivo limits its usefulness. To address this limitation, the patient’s immune response can be further leveraged to reach even distant cancer cells by combining NIR-PIT with already-approved anti-tumor immunomodulator therapies. This strategy has not yet been developed into treatment – but could provide a potentially more superior therapy that targets local deposits as well as metastases.
Investigators at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have developed a method that combines antibody-IR700/NIR-PIT therapy with already-approved antitumor agents. By combining these classes of therapies, the method targets both local and distant metastatic cancers and importantly, provides a powerful vaccine-like effect which prevents regrowth with minimal harm to normal cells. The method employs an immune system activator and/or an inhibitor of immune-suppressing cells, introduced simultaneously with or sequentially to antibody-IR700 molecules, after which the subject is treated with NIR-PIT. The method has been tested in mouse cancer models with various immunotherapies, where a total cure of local and distant cancers was exhibited in addition to successful immunization against cancer re-emergence. This novel combination of NIR-PIT with anticancer agents has tremendous potential as a highly efficacious therapeutic.
The scientists at NCI seek parties interested in licensing of and/or co-development collaboration on this cancer therapeutic strategy.
- Capability to treat existing local and metastatic disease.
- Potential to prevent new tumor formation.
- Could be a more effective combination therapy compared with those receiving immune-monotherapy, such as anti-PD-1
- Solid cancers. – including those ineffectively treated with anti-PD-1 agents.