Development of dual antibody therapies for cancer

Cancer is a devastating disease defined by genetic changes that result in the activation of proteins that encourage cell growth or prevent cell death. Modern oncology aims to specifically target these tumour-promoting proteins, which has the secondary benefit of leaving normal cells unharmed, unlike chemotherapy. Recently, a number of drugs that specifically block tumour-promoting proteins have been produced, yet the results are underwhelming: most targeted therapies show an initial benefit, followed by the development of resistance. To combat resistance, targeted therapies are often combined in multi-drug regimens, though these strategies are biased towards using existing drugs. Our approach aims to first identify new ‘helper’ drug targets that, when blocked, improve the efficacy of first generation targeted therapies being developed at the Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics (CCAB). Our second aim is to develop drugs that block the identified targets by engineering versions of naturally-occurring human proteins – antibodies – that bind the targets. These antibodies will be tested for their ability to increase targeted therapy efficacy, hopefully establishing novel approaches for cancer treatment and positively impacting the development of CCAB cancer drugs.

Jacob Turowec
Faculty Supervisor: 
Jason Moffat
Partner University: