Targeting folate receptors to treat invasive urinary bladder cancer

Deepika Dhawan, José A. Ramos-Vara, James F. Naughton, Liang Cheng, Philip S. Low, Ryan Rothenbuhler, Christopher P. Leamon, Nikki Parker, Patrick J. Klein, Iontcho R. Vlahov, Joseph A. Reddy, Michael Koch, Linda Murphy, Lindsey M. Fourez, Jane C. Stewart, Deborah W. Knapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Folate receptors (FR) may be of use for targeted delivery of cytotoxic drugs in invasive urothelial carcinoma (iUC), for which improved therapy is needed. FR expression and function in iUC were explored and the antitumor activity and toxicity of a folate-targeted vinblastine conjugate were evaluated in dogs with naturally occurring iUC, an excellent model for human iUC. FR immunohistochemistry was carried out on iUC and normal human and dog bladder tissues together with nuclear scintigraphy in dogs to monitor iUC folate uptake. Dose escalation of a folate-targeted vinblastine compound, EC0905, was conducted in dogs with biopsy-confirmed, FR-positive iUC. FRs were detected by immunohistochemistry (PU17) in most primary iUC and many nodal and lung metastases from dogs, and scintigraphy confirmed folate uptake in both primary and metastatic lesions. The maximum tolerated dose of EC0905 in dogs was 0.25 mg/kg IV weekly, with neutropenia at higher doses. Tumor responses included partial remission (≥50% reduction in tumor volume) in five dogs and stable disease (<50% change in tumor volume) in four dogs. Immunoreactivity to PU17 was similar in humans (78% of primary iUC, 80% of nodal metastases). Less immunoreactivity to mab343 (22% of cases) occurred. FR-b was noted in 21% of human iUC cases. Our findings suggest folate-targeted therapy holds considerable promise for treating iUC, where FR-b may be important in addition to FR-α.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-884
Number of pages10
JournalCancer research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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