During the past 12 months, our disease team has made further progress in
the development of stem cell targeted treatment for chronic lymphocytic
leukemias and other leukemias. Stem cells express some molecules on the
surface that are different from the corresponding molecules on adult
cells. The ROR1 molecule is highly expressed by malignant cells from
patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, as well as by progenitor cells
from other forms of leukemia and lymphoma. It is not expressed by normal
adult cells. With the support of the CIRM Disease Team grant, the
cooperating investigators have prepared a humanized monoclonal antibody against the
ROR1 molecule, that is potent and specific. In animal models, the
antibodies can retard leukemia growth and spread. Unlike other anti-cancer
drugs, the new antibodies are not toxic for normal bone marrow cells.
Thus, they can potentiate the action of other agents used for the
treatment of leukemia.
The disease team is now focused on the pre-clinical development, safety
testing, and scale-up manufacturing of our new, promising agents, in
preparation for their introduction into the clinic.