Tagging of RNases, such as the ribotoxin α-sarcin, with the variable domains of antibodies directed to surface antigens that are selectively expressed on tumor cells endows cellular specificity to their cytotoxic action. A recombinant single-chain immunotoxin based on the ribotoxin α-sarcin (IMTXA33αS), produced in the generally regarded as safe (GRAS) yeast Pichia pastoris, has been recently described as a promising candidate for the treatment of colorectal cancer cells expressing the glycoprotein A33 (GPA33) antigen, due to its high specific and effective cytotoxic effect on in vitro assays against targeted cells. Here we report the in vivo antitumor effectiveness of this immunotoxin on nude mice bearing GPA33-positive human colon cancer xenografts. Two sets of independent assays were performed, including three experimental groups: control (PBS) and treatment with two different doses of immunotoxin (50 or 100 μg/ injection) (n = 8). Intraperitoneal administration of IMTXA33αS resulted in significant dose-dependent tumor growth inhibition. In addition, the remaining tumors excised from immunotoxin-treated mice showed absence of the GPA33 antigen and a clear inhibition of angiogenesis and proliferative capacity. No signs of immunotoxin-induced pathological changes were observed from specimens tissues. Overall these results show efficient and selective cytotoxic action on tumor xenografts, combined with the lack of severe side effects, suggesting that IMTXA33αS is a potential therapeutic agent against colorectal cancer.
Keywords: Colorectal cancer; GPA33; Immunotoxin; Ribotoxin α-sarcin; in vivo antitumor effectiveness.