Adjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer patients has had limited success, which is possibly because of lack of effect on non-proliferating cells accompanied by the emergence of drug-resistant cell clones. Since immunotoxins (ITs) are known to exert proliferation-independent cytotoxicity, we investigated the efficacy of systemically administered anti-carcinoma ITs in nude rat models, simulating micrometastatic disease. The monoclonal antibodies MOC31, BM7 and 425.3, which recognize epithelial glycoprotein 2, MUC-1 mucin and the epidermal growth factor receptor, chemically conjugated to Pseudomonas exotoxin A (PE), inhibited protein synthesis of the 2 breast cancer cell lines at concentrations of 0.3-0.4 ng/ml, except for BM7-PE, which was less efficacious (65 ng/ml). In the MA-11 model in nude rats, a single i. v. dose of 20 microg MOC31-PE prevented development of metastasis in the spinal cord in 11/19 (58%) of the animals. Similarly, 425.3-PE treatment gave 6/9 (66%) long-term survivors. In rats injected intracardially or intratibially with MT-1 cells, treatment with 425. 3-PE prevented metastasis in 4/10 (40%) and intratibial tumor growth in 17/18 (94%) of the rats. Importantly, an equimolar dose of free 425.3 (antibody) was ineffective, whereas PE alone was toxic. With BM7-PE, 5/17 (29%) cures were obtained in the intratibial model. The results demonstrate that systemic short-term treatment with non-toxic doses of the 3 ITs tested can effectively inhibit the development of experimental breast cancer metastasis and/or local tumor growth in bone. The results support the development of the ITs towards clinical evaluation for possible use as short-term adjuvant therapy in patients at high risk of early relapse.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.