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Chien-Tsun Kuan

Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology
Duke Box 3156, Durham, NC 27710
181C Med Sci Res Bldg, Durham, NC 27710


Research Interests:
Conventional therapy for malignant brain tumors is ineffective. Targeted therapy using tumor-specific antibodies (MAb) alone or MAbs armed with radionuclides or toxins is a promising alternative approach for increasing therapeutic efficacy and decreasing toxicity to normal tissue. The major factors that influence antibody-targeted therapy for cancer treatment, including glioma therapy, are specificity, affinity, tumor penetration, toxicity and immunogenicity. The effective use of radioimmunotherapy (RAIT) for the treatment of solid malignancies has been limited by inadequate tumor penetration and non-targeted myelotoxicity resulting from the presence of radioimmunoconjugates in circulation. We believe that these limitations to direct RAIT can be overcome by using smaller engineered antibody-based molecules as vehicles and by selecting therapeutic radioisotopes with physical properties that complement the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the antibody.

Our research is focused upon exploiting engineered antibody fragments to treat brain tumors by targeting to glioma-associated, oncofetal epitopes such as tenascin, glioma variant epidermal growth factor variant III (EGFRvIII), medulloblastoma-associated developmental markers, as well as the newly identified glioma-associated antigens, GPNMB and MRP3, by serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE). Projects performed in the current years have: 1) produced and evaluated the monovalent single-chain Fv (scFv) against EGRvIII in athymic mice bearing human glioma xenografts; 2) begun the development of divalent form of scFv, including diabody and minibody, to increase the efficacy of therapeutic agents in vivo; 3) generated CH2 domain-deleted Ch81C6 vs tenascin and evaluated the pharmacokinetics in mice and canines; 4) begun an extensive analysis of GPNMB and MRP3 protein expression correlated with measurement of RNA transcript levels and degree of DNA amplification.

Unarmed antibody can be effective against both subcutaneous and intracranial tumor models. The unarmed antibody approach with Mab Y10 vs EGFRvIII is very similar to the successful use of HerceptinTM. The mechanism is most likely both a direct antiproliferative effect with the induction of apoptosis and an indirect effect through the mobilization of antibody-mediated immune effector functions, such as complement and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). We also have begun to construct human/mouse chimeric Y10 to reduce immunogenicity of the Mab reagent and possibly enhance ADCC.

Our objectives for the coming years are to continue the optimization of engineered-antibody systems for in vivo application, namely; a) development of human/mouse chimeric anti-EGFRvIII murine Y10 with the same affinity and specificity but reduced immunogenicity and enhanced ADCC for in vivo application; b) to generate a totally human scFv specific to EGFRvIII but with anti-proliferative activity via screening from human phage libraries; c) generation of monomeric and dimeric anti-GPNMB/MRP3 scFvs and construction of immunoconjugate toxins or radiolabeled to determine the efficacy of therapeutic reagents in athymic rodent in athymic rodent in vivo models of intracranial glioma.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology · 2015 - Present Pathology, Clinical Science Departments

Education, Training & Certifications

Purdue University · 1992 Ph.D.
National Taiwan University (Taiwan) · 1985 B.S.
National Taipei University (Taiwan) · 1985 B.S.