Terasaki Institute For Biomedical Innovation is Awarded Grant From METAvivor

February 21, 2022

– Vadim Jucaud, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (TIBI), has been awarded an Early Career Investigator grant from METAvivor. This volunteer-led, non-profit organization supports vital research to benefit stage IV metastatic breast cancer (mBC) patients. METAvivor is dedicated to improving the longevity and quality of life of these patients and is the only organization in the United States that annually funds this type of research. The grant will fund a project titled

“Microengineered Approach to Develop Personalized Monoclonal Antibodies for Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment.”

Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in women. Thirty percent of women with invasive forms of breast cancer will progress to mBC. Early detection improves prognosis, and chemotherapeutic and hormonal treatments are available, but due to the drug resistance frequently encountered with these treatments, efficacy varies significantly.

More targeted therapies using treatment with monoclonal antibodies have been effective for certain types of mBC. However, because of the variety of subtypes, grades, and stages of mBC found among patients, there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment, and a more personalized approach is desired.

Attempts to personalize mBC treatments are currently made by adjusting combinations of chemo-, immuno-, radiation, surgical, and targeted therapies, but there are limitations to these strategies, and new treatments customized for individual patients could be instrumental in achieving better patient outcomes, even to complete remission.

To date, attempts to produce individual patient-specific monoclonal antibodies for this purpose have been unsuccessful, but these efforts have been mainly hampered by the prohibitive costs and lengthy processes involved in producing and screening monoclonal antibodies.

Dr. Jucaud and his team of researchers will address those needs by developing a high-throughput system for screening personalized monoclonal antibodies for mBC treatment. Such a system is made possible by using microscale technologies to generate detectable levels of monoclonal antibodies rapidly. This enables a more than 40-fold decrease in monoclonal antibody production time compared to conventional methods and significant savings in cells and reagents. It also enables high-throughput screening methods for the selection of promising antibody candidates.

According to a career metastasis researcher on the METAvivor Review Board,

“The use of personalized monoclonal antibodies would be transformative for treatment of metastasis. The issue has been that this is currently non-cost effective or scale effective. This proposal seeks to address this and could have a significant impact.”

The TIBI team would establish a robust microscale screening platform to test and characterize monoclonal antibodies raised against human mBC cells. This could lead to future use of the platform to detect and characterize libraries of mBC-specific personalized monoclonal antibodies and to evaluate their effector functions in vitro.

“Our microscale system will be an important step towards the discovery of new, effective, and personalized cancer treatments,” said Ali Khademhosseini, Ph.D., TIBI’s Director and CEO. “It paves the way for finding personalized treatments for other diseases as well.”

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