(Vienna, 05 June 2018) If immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies are directed against harmless antigens such as pollen, the result can be an allergic reaction. However the original purpose of these IgE antibodies is to repel harmful exogenous substances rather than to trigger allergies. In collaboration with Vetmeduni Vienna and international scientists, researchers from MedUni Vienna have now made use this function: they have developed a "canine IgE" that directly targets the EGFR growth factor in cancerous tumours. The main finding: in-vitro studies showed that the tumour was destroyed by the IgE antibodies in more than 60% of cases.
The response of endogenous immunoglobulin E that leads to the development of allergies is "pointless", because it interacts with inflammatory cells to turn against harmless antigens , thereby causing serious allergies. "Our motto in the current study is: Is there any point to IgE?" says its lead author, Erika Jensen-Jarolim, who has dual affiliation, both to MedUni Vienna's Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research and to the inter-university Messerli Research Institute of Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine, Medical University of Vienna and University of Vienna.
"Using dogs as ' model patients’, we were able to show that tumours that have the EGFR growth factor can be killed by immunoglobulin E, irrespective of the breed of dog," explains Jensen-Jarolim. By the way, the 3rd of June was "Day of the Dog".
The results of the study, which have now been published in leading magazine "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology" (JACI), are also highly promising, since canine EGFR is a 92% match for human EGFR. IgE antibodies build a "bridge", as it were, between the EGFR on cancer cells and the inflammatory cells, thereby releasing tumour necrosis factors – which immediately start to kill the tumours.
Says Jensen-Jarolim: "We can therefore hope that we have made an important contribution towards developing a new form of immunotherapy against cancerous tumours. A subsequent clinical trial will be conducted in canine patients to validate the results in an international joint initiative before moving to human trials. "This paper is a perfect example of what we are all about at the Messerli Research Institute: improving medicine for people but for animals as well."
Service: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
"AllergoOncology: Generating a canine anti-cancer IGE against the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)". J. Fazekas-Singer, J. Singer, K. Ilieva, M. Matz, I. Herrmann, E. Spillner, S. Karagiannis, E. Jensen-Jarolim. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, June 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.04.021. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29746883