FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Interleukin-11 receptor alpha (IL-11Rα) appears to present a target for therapy of osteosarcoma, according to research published online Feb. 24 in Cancer Research.
Valerae O. Lewis, M.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues observed the results of injections of osteosarcoma cells into the tibias of mice. At three weeks post-injection, IL-11Rα staining was closely associated with the intratibial lesions, then later with the periphery of the lesions. IL-11Rα expression was hardly seen in control bone, but later was seen in pulmonary lesions.
After injecting an IL-11Rα-targeting phage into mice with intratibial cancers, the phage showed strong staining in tumors, with minimal accumulation in control organs, the researchers report. In addition, upon assessing a panel of human tumors, all primary osteosarcoma samples showed moderate- to high-intensity staining of tumor cells. All of a group of lung metastatic tumors were positive for IL-11Rα, the investigators found.
"In summary, treatment options and survival outcomes of patients with osteosarcoma has all but plateaued over the past 20 years," the authors write. "The discovery of functional ligand receptor systems is a critical first step in the development of new targeted agents. Our histologic and functional findings establish that the IL-11/IL-11Rα system acts as a bona fide ligand receptor pair in osteosarcoma. Moreover, the vascular expression, systemic targeting, and human translation further support the candidacy of IL-11/IL-11Rα-based therapies or imaging agents for osteosarcoma patients."