WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Lupus antibodies, which attack the body's own healthy cells and issues, appear to make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy, according to a new study published Wednesday in Science Transitional Medicine.
The findings are the first to show that lupus antibodies could potentially be used to treat cancer. The study may help explain the unexpectedly low rates of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer in individuals with lupus, an autoimmune disease affecting more than five million people worldwide.
In the study, Yale University Assistant Professor James Hansen and colleagues determined that a lupus antibody called 3E10 sensitizes ovarian tumors to radiation in the lab. The lupus antibody works by penetrating cells and sticking to DNA, mucking up cellular machinery needed to fix DNA. Without the ability to repair DNA, cells become more vulnerable to DNA-damaging therapies like radiation. Surprisingly, the antibody itself (without radiation or chemotherapy) can kill cancer cells that are deficient in DNA repair like breast, ovarian or prostate cancer cells.
According to the researchers, the results hint that the antibody could be useful as a new therapy that attacks DNA repair- deficient cancer cells while sparing normal cells.