Immunotoxins in cancer therapy

Curr Opin Immunol. 1999 Oct;11(5):570-8. doi: 10.1016/s0952-7915(99)00005-9.


Immunotoxins are composed of a protein toxin connected to a binding ligand such as an antibody or growth factor. These molecules bind to surface antigens (which internalize) and kill cells by catalytic inhibition of protein synthesis within the cell cytosol. Immunotoxins have recently been tested clinically in hematologic malignancies and solid tumors and have demonstrated potent clinical efficacy in patients with malignant diseases that are refractory to surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy - the traditional modalities of cancer treatment. This therapy is thus evolving into a separate modality of cancer treatment, capable of rationally targeting cells on the basis of surface markers. Efforts are underway to obviate impediments to clinical efficacy, including immunogenicity and toxicity to normal tissues. Immunotoxins are now being developed to new antigens for the treatment of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ADP Ribose Transferases*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Toxins*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / immunology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diphtheria Toxin
  • Exotoxins
  • Humans
  • Immunotoxins / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Ricin
  • Virulence Factors*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Diphtheria Toxin
  • Exotoxins
  • Immunotoxins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Virulence Factors
  • Ricin
  • ADP Ribose Transferases
  • toxA protein, Pseudomonas aeruginosa