Antibody therapy is a promising treatment approach for a number of types of cancer. Some cancer cells have been found to overexpress certain cell signaling proteins, leading to changes in expression levels of the genes responsible for cell division and growth. The receptors for growth factors, found on the cell surface, are often overexpressed in malignant cells. One promising target for cancer treatment is the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R). Overexpression of IGF-1R is prevalent in a number of different types of cancer. By using monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), researchers are preventing interactions between growth factors and these receptors, thus interfering with cell proliferation.
Companies like Merck and Co. and Pierre Fabre Medicament, who entered into an agreement earlier this year to work together on finding an antibody to target IGF-1R, are using this strategy to develop new ways to combat cancer. The results are promising, with at least 21 therapeutic MAbs presently registered for sale in the US alone.