A New Antibody for Reducing Drug Resistance in Lung Cancer

Chinese & English Text | Davis Ip
Photo | Editorial Board with some provided by the interviewee

In the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), Associate Professor Henry Kwok Hang Fai’s team has developed an antibody to minimise drug resistance in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). They have filed a United States patent application for this novel antibody and its development.

NSCLC accounts for over 80 per cent of all lung cancer cases. One of its causes is mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is important in the cell signalling process for multiplying and regulating cell survival. Certain EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors are commonly used to treat NSCLC. These inhibitors aim to block signals from unnaturally active receptors that allow cancer cells to grow rapidly.

Prof Henry Kwok Hang Fai

In recent years, many medical reports have shown that many NSCLC patients can develop resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors in a relatively short period of treatment. Although this problem might be mitigated by changing to the next generation of new drug treatment, patients can still develop resistance to the new drug after several rounds of treatment. ‘This process can go on and on, and shifting from drug to drug often hampers the treatment,’ says Prof Kwok.

The structure of the inhibitory antibody

To break this cycle, Prof Kwok’s team developed anew inhibitory antibody named A9(B8) IgG, which targets Tumour Necrosis Factor‑α Converting Enzyme(TACE/ADAM17). ‘Our research suggests that this antibody, when used in combination with EGFR‑TKI, can potentiate the anticancer effects of EGFR‑TKI and overcome drug resistance due to EGFR mutations.’ Prof Kwok and FHS Assistant Professor Xie Ruiyu have filed a US patent application for this antibody and its development, which helped them obtain support from some pharmaceutical companies and the Macao Science and Technology DevelopmentFund (FDCT, in its Portuguese acronym).

With funding support from FDCT, Prof Kwok’s team and FHS Associate Professor Tam Kin Yip have been carrying out animal experimentation to conduct pre‑clinical trial studies. They are also preparing to cooperate with Consultant Pathologist Dr Chan Kin Iong at the Kiang Wu Hospital in Macao to obtain cancer tissues and cells from local patients, in order to study the antibody’s effectiveness and to find out the best drug combination strategies.

ISSUE 22 | 2020

Also in this issue

Prof Henry Kwok Hang Fai’s research interests cover cancer biomarkers discovery and natural drug development, including antibody and venom‑based peptide targeted therapy for cancer treatment. He also serves as a visiting scientist at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge. He is an editorial board member and guest editor of both Biomolecules and Toxins, and associate editor of Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences.