Lupus antibodies not only react against host DNA, they also may make cancer cells more sensitive to treatment. A new study has found that a lupus antibody called 3E10 sensitizes ovarian tumors to radiation by penetrating and binding to DNA within tumor cells, impairing DNA repair mechanisms (Hansen JE et al. Sci Transl Med. 2012;4:157ra142). This makes the tumor cells more vulnerable to DNA-damaging therapies.
The antibody itself could also kill cancer cells deficient in DNA repair. It has already been deemed safe in a human clinical trial, where it was tested as a possible vaccine for lupus.
Hampton T. Lupus Antibodies Fight Cancer. JAMA. 2012;308(22):2326. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.111747
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