Classical therapeutic modalities such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy not only fail to cure the great majority of malignant tumors, but their employment often leads to severe and debilitating side effects. The severe cancer related morbidity is also in direct correlation with the use of x-radiation and chemotherapy, making them less than ideal forms of therapy. The development of hybridoma technology and the advances in monoclonal antibody (MoAB) production have revitalized the initial concept of Ehrlich concerning the existence of cancer cell-targeted, specific magic bullets. Entirely new approaches to cancer therapy that are neoplastic cell-directed, and specifically lethal to malignant cells and less toxic to normal tissues are being observed and developed, adhering to the old prayer Destroy the diseased tissues, preserve the normal. Immunotherapy as a fourth modality of cancer therapy has already been developed and proven to be quite effective. Strategies for the employment of antibodies for anti-cancer immunotherapy include: 1) Immune reaction directed destruction of cancer cells; 2) Interference with the growth and differentiation of malignant cells; 3) Antigen epitope directed transport of anti-cancer agents to malignant cells; 4) Anti-idiotype vaccines; and 5) Development of engineered (humanized) mouse monoclonals for anti-cancer therapy. In addition, a variety of different agents (e.g. toxins, radionuclides, chemotherapeutic drugs) have been conjugated to mouse and human MoABs for selective delivery to cancer cells. Preclinical observations in athymic, nude mice using xenografted human cancers and mouse, anti-human MoABs were more than impressive and have lead to the development of clinical trials. Phase I studies established the safety of employing immunoconjugates in humans, but the in vivo therapeutic results were less impressive. The clinical use of mouse MoABs in humans is limited due to the development of a foreign anti-globulin immune response by the human host. Genetically engineered chimeric human-mouse MoABs have been developed by replacing the mouse Fc region with the human constant region. Moreover, the framework regions of variable domains of rodent immunoglobulins were also experimentally replaced by their human equivalents. These antibodies can also be designed to have specificities and effector functions determined by researchers, which may not appear in nature. The development of antibodies with two binding ends (bispecific antibodies) provided a great improvement in targeting cancer cells. The existing inadequacies of MoABs in immunotherapy may also be improved by increasing their efficiency with chemical coupling to various agents such as bacterial or plant toxins, radionuclides or cytotoxic drugs. The astonishing immunophenotypic (IP) heterogeneity of neoplastically transformed cells, the different cytotoxic activity associated with the moiety linked to given MoABs, and mostly the impressive genetic modulation capabilities of cancer cells still remain as yet unsolved difficulties in the present immunotherapy of human cancer. In writing this review article, one of our main goals is to encourage further clinical research with the use of genetically engineered rodent MoABs and various immunoconjugates in the treatment of human cancer, as well as the combination of such immunotherapy with the three conventional modalities of therapy. Finally, we propose that MoAB-based immunotherapy be accepted as a conventional form of therapy and employed not only in terminal cancer patients but also, for instance, during and following surgical resection.
Keywords: monoclonal antibiodies, anti neoplastic treatment, cancer cell specific delivery, chemotherapeutic agents, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, malignant tumors, hybridoma technology, anti cancer, immunotherapy, immune reaction, antigen epitope, anti idiotype vaccine, human cancer cell related antigens, tumor immunology, neoplastic cell heterogeneity, cell differentiation, oncofetal, detect tumor, interferon, metazoan evolution, proto oncogenes, burkitts lymphoma, transforming cellular oncogene, protein kinase, signal transduction, mammalian embryogenesis