Minerva has also discovered a metastatic growth factor. This ‘Met Factor’ should not be expressed in adults except in testis. However, we have found it in every metastatic cancer we have looked at.
Human cancer cells grown in this recombinant human Met Factor are able to form tumors in mice from the implantation of as few as 50 cancer cells. This indicates that they are metastatic since tumor formation in an animal usually requires 4-6 million human cancer cells.
Injecting Met Factor into these mice made these human cancers metastasize to the same organs and bone as human cancer would metastasize. This has never been done before.
We are developing an antibody therapeutic against this testis specific cancer antigen. Minerva has developed specific antibodies that block this growth factor and block the transition from a regular cancer cell to a metastatic cancer cell. Un-optimized anti-Met factor antibodies block cancer growth. Our optimized antibodies specifically block Met Factor but not related family members that are expressed in adults.
We made novel anti-‘Met Factor’ antibodies that block interaction of ‘Met Factor’ with its cognate receptor.
We also identified ‘Met Factor’ peptides that inhibit interaction of ‘Met Factor’ with MUC1* – these could be used for vaccine.