Using the Body's Natural Cancer Killers

Colorectal cancer cetuximab resistance reversed using ARI-4175

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Chemotherapy, as well as other pharmaceuticals, are key components of cancer treatment. But sometimes the drugs stop working as the cancer becomes immune to the drug. Research is now focusing on reversing that drug resistance.

New research focusing on enhancing the ability of the body's very own natural killer cells used a compound called ARI-4175 to boost the amount of natural killer cells which effectively stopped further colorectal tumor growth.

"Ask your oncologist about immunotherapy."

Initial research took place in a laboratory setting, and while neither ARI-4175 or Erbitux (cetuximab) had a notable effect alone, the combination of the two drugs was successful.

Further testing in studies on colorectal cancer in mice showed that higher doses of ARI-4175 further increased the effectiveness of the immune response against the cancer.

"We've discovered that ARI-4175 appears to increase the level of natural killer cells that could play a role in rejecting the tumor," said Hossein Borghaei, D.O., the director of thoracic medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

"Tumors often develop resistance to targeted therapies," he says, "but it's more difficult to find resistance to a patient's own immune system. Bringing in the activity of the immune system might be the most effective way to fight some of these cancers," Dr. Borghaei said.

The researchers concluded that these lab results justify a clinical trial in the future, and furthermore that their research may show similar results in treating other types of cancer.

Erbitux, initially approved by the FDA in 2006, is part of the newer generation of cancer drugs known as monoclonal antibodies. These drugs mimic the targeting ability used by the body's immune system. Erbitux targets the EGFR receptor, which is frequently found in as many as 75 percent of colorectal cancers.

Erbitux does not work in roughly 40 percent of patients who have a cancer where the receptor is not present, or if another related protein, KRAS, is mutated.

Erbitux was quoted at $20,000 per year of treatment as of 2010. Notable side effects include rash, and standard infusion reactions similar to severe allergies, which can be prevented by antihistamines.

ARI-4175 is still in experimental stages and further information on the drug, including projected cost, has not been released.

Researchers presented their findings at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting in April, 2012.

The research was supported by Arisaph Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 17, 2012
Last Updated:
April 17, 2012