an antibody capable of inhibiting the growth of identified tumors


  • The term “metastasis” refers to the spread of cancer to other organs.
  • The MCLA-158 antibody blocks the occurrence of metastases in several preclinical cancer models: tumors of the head and neck, esophagus and stomach.
  • This treatment could also be used for other types of tumors in the future.

There “medicine of the future crosses a threshold. Scientists from the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute led by Dr. Eduard Batlle, in collaboration with the Dutch company Merus, have discovered the potential of an antibody, MCLA-158, in the treatment of cancer. According to her work, published in the journal Nature Cancerit is able to act on cancer stem cells, thus preventing the occurrence of metastases.

An antibody that can block the action of two proteins

Antibodies are proteins that our body produces naturally. They recognize infectious agents so that the immune system’s lymphocytes can eliminate them. The MCLA-158 antibody examined in this study recognizes two proteins present on the surface of cancer cells: EGFR and LGR5. The first promotes the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells, and the second is responsible for their spread throughout the body. During their work, the Spanish researchers found that the antibody can degrade the EGFR protein in cancer stem cells with the LGR5 marker, which helps block the growth and survival of cancer-spreading cells. However, this antibody does not interfere with the functioning of healthy stem cells, which are essential for the proper functioning of tissues. Tests performed on mice confirm the antibody’s effect on cancer: metastases do not occur in treated rodents. In the studies conducted on cancer patients, three of the seven participants experienced partial or even complete remissions. Most notably, shrinkage of the tumors was observed in the seven patients. The research team is continuing their work and expects new data to be released soon.We hope that the anti-tumor activity reported in the preliminary data will be confirmed.”says dr battle

A path to the general use of organoids?

This is not the only novelty in this treatment. To develop and characterize this antibody, researchers built a large biobank that included organoids from colon cancer patients, organoids from colon and liver cancer metastases, and organoids from normal, noncancerous tissues. The term organoid refers to “patient-derived samples that can be cultured in the laboratory and mimic certain aspects of tumor behavior”. So far, they have only been used for personalized cancer medicine, i.e. the search for the most suitable therapy for a patient. This research represents the first time that an organoid biobank has been used to determine which antibody is most effective and appropriate for the majority of patients. “Using organoids in the early stages of drug development—in this case, therapeutic antibodies—makes it easier to identify those that are effective for most patients or even against tumors with a specific mutation.”, the authors said in a press release. They add that their application to healthy tissues also makes it possible to detect possible side effects.

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