UConn Health professor receives patent for cancer research

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UConn labs provide a great place for discovery. Uconn Health professor Kevin Claffey has received a patent for an antibody used to target Heat Shock Protein 90 (Hsp90), a protein which furthers the survival of cancer cells. File photo/The Daily Campus

Uconn Health professor Kevin Claffey has received a patent for an antibody used to target Heat Shock Protein 90 (Hsp90), a protein which furthers the survival of cancer cells.  

Hsp90 allows proteins to “fold properly” and to “stabilize,” which only helps tumor growth due to the fact that cancer cells require more Hsp90 than healthy cells, making it a prime target. 

Claffey, who is a professor of cell biology, struck gold with his discovery of this antibody, as he is the first researcher to find antibodies that “bind specifically to the tumor and the selectively induced stress protein,” according to UConn Today.  

This antibody is known as HCAb2 and is found in the lymph nodes of breast cancer patients. Claffey used HCAb2 to develop a treatment for cancer that will target Hsp90, but not signal receptors that are essential for normal cell functioning.  

This is essential for safer cancer treatments as the antibodies will go after the cancer-furthering protein and leave necessary cells alone. Melanoma, bladder and ovarian cancer types are where the antibody has successfully been able to latch onto Hsp90.  

To further support his patent, Claffey developed a platform which takes these antibodies from patients and isolates cancer proteins. Targeting those proteins is key, and this platform allows for it, along with using them in CAR T-cell therapies, which is a form of immunotherapy that fights cancer by  producing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on the surface of the patients T-Cells.  

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