Signaling antibodies in cancer therapy

Curr Opin Immunol. 1999 Oct;11(5):541-7. doi: 10.1016/s0952-7915(99)00010-2.


Over the past 10-15 years, genetic engineering of monoclonal antibodies has greatly improved their utility in humans and in particular their ability to recruit immunological effectors such as natural killer cells and macrophages. Clinical results now confirm that these new reagents, when directed at the appropriate tumor markers (e.g. CD20 or Her-2), can control disease without untoward side effects. However, despite such success it is still unclear exactly how monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) destroy tumors in vivo. The ability of mAbs to crosslink membrane receptors and generate intracellular signals is part of the mechanism by which they control tumor growth. New data show that such 'signaling' mAbs can be used to sensitize tumors to the action of conventional DNA-damaging drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antigens, CD20 / immunology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / therapy
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / immunology
  • Rituximab
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antigens, CD20
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Rituximab
  • Receptor, ErbB-2