Volociximab, a chimeric integrin alpha5beta1 antibody, inhibits the growth of VX2 tumors in rabbits
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Angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels form from existing vasculature, is critical for tumor growth and invasion. Growth factors, such as VEGF, initiate signaling cascades resulting in the proliferation of resting endothelial cells. Blockade of growth factor pathways has proven effective in inhibiting angiogenesis and tumor growth in vivo. Integrins, including the integrin α5β1, are also important mediators of angiogenesis and these adhesion molecules also regulate cancer cell growth and migration in vitro. Volociximab is a high affinity, function-blocking antibody against integrin α5β1 that is currently in multiple Phase II oncology clinical trials. Volociximab displays potent anti-angiogenic activity in a monkey model of choroidal neovascularization. In this study, we explored the consequences of integrin α5β1 blockade on tumorigenesis. Because volociximab does not cross-react with rodent α5β1, the syngeneic rabbit VX2 carcinoma model was utilized as an alternative to standard mouse xenograft models for the assessment of anti-tumor activity of volociximab. Volociximab administered intravenously to rabbits bearing VX2 tumors is detectable on tumor cells and vasculature 45 min post-administration. Volociximab was found to significantly inhibit the growth of tumors growing subcutaneously or intramuscularly, despite a 20-fold lower affinity for rabbit integrin, relative to human. This effect was found to correlate with decreased blood vessel density within these tumors. These results support the use of volociximab in the intervention of malignant disease.