Focus on a single cell sees development of new cancer treatment

For over 30 years, Professors Jenny Gamble and Mathew Vadas AO at the Centenary Institute in Sydney have been working on understanding the function of a single cell, the “guardian” endothelial cell that lines our blood vessels.

Their thorough understanding of how the endothelium is critical in the control of inflammation, the body’s response against harmful stimuli, has led to the development of the new cancer treatment.

Collaboration with Danish and Australian researchers has shown that the new drug, called CD5-2, has potential to be effective and to work alongside the current immunotherapy for cancers.

CD5-2 is the first drug of its kind and works by altering the endothelial cells of the blood vessels within the tumour. This allows T cells to penetrate into the tumour and also impacts on the behaviour of these T cells by allowing them to more effectively provide their protective function of fighting and killing the cancer cells.

The new drug could be effective in some of the hardest to treat cancers with the highest mortality rates, such as pancreatic and liver cancer, although it would also be effective in other, more common cancers such as melanoma.

Essential toxicology and safety studies are currently underway and it is hoped that this new drug could be in clinical trials in the next 2-3 years.

Professor Gamble is the Head of the Vascular Biology Program and Professor Vadas is the Executive Director of the Institute. Professor Vadas has previously chaired ACRF’s Medical Research Advisory Committee and is currently a committee member.

The study has recently been published in the journal Cancer Research.

This news was first published on the Centenary Website.

ACRF has supported cancer research at the Centenary Institute by providing two cancer research grants totalling $7.5 million.

Image: Professors Vadas (left) and Gamble. Image courtesy of Centenary Institute.