Anticancer research

An epithelial cell adhesion molecule- and CD3-bispecific antibody plus activated T-cells can eradicate chemoresistant cancer stem-like pancreatic carcinoma cells in vitro.

PMID 25075094


Cancer stem-like properties of various types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive types, correlate with metastasis, invasion, and therapeutic resistance. More importantly, chemoresistance in cancer stem-like cells (CSLCs) is a critical problem for eradication of pancreatic cancer. Several cell surface markers, such as CD44 and epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM), are molecular targets on CSLCs of pancreatic carcinoma. In this study, we investigated whether catumaxomab, a clinical-grade bi-specific antibody that binds to both EpCAM on tumor cells and CD3 on T-cells, combined with activated T-cells can eliminate chemoresistant pancreatic CSLCs in vitro. Firstly, we established a CSLC line (MU-PK1) from human pancreatic carcinoma cells derived from a patient with chemoresistant and disseminated pancreatic cancer. These CSLCs were almost completely resistant to gemcitabine-mediated cytotoxicity up to a concentration of 10 μg/ml. The cells expressed high levels of CSLC markers (CD44 and EpCAM) and had significantly higher capacities for sphere formation, invasion, and aldehyde dehydrogenase-1 expression, which are associated with cancer stemness properties. We found that pre-treatment with catumaxomab and subsequent addition of interleukin-2/OKT3 activated autologous T-cells eliminated CSLCs during a short incubation period. Moreover, when MU-PK1 cells were cultured under hypoxic conditions, the CSLCs became more aggressive. However, the combination of cytokine-activated killer T-cells with catumaxomab successfully lysed almost all these cells. In conclusion, catumaxomab combined with activated T-cells may be a potent therapeutic modality to eradicate chemoresistant pancreatic CSLCs.