Targeting cancer stem cells with monoclonal antibodies: a new perspective in cancer therapy and diagnosis

Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2008 Jul;8(4):387-93. doi: 10.1586/14737159.8.4.387.


This review discusses some of the impacts that biotechnology, genomics and nanotechnology convergence should have on future cancer management, in particular, the development of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches based on monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and cancer stem cells. Emergent therapeutic strategies in cancer have been focusing on the use of mAbs to stimulate an immune response against tumors, to block signaling pathways, or to refine delivery of cytotoxic agents. Now that cancer stem cells are being identified and characterized in different tumor types, their relevance to cancer physiopathology is becoming evident, making them natural targets for mAb development. Cancer stem cells are postulated to be responsible for tumor development, metastasis and relapse after conventional therapies. Therefore, mAbs targeting specific antigens and related pathways altered in cancer stem cells should facilitate earlier diagnosis through molecular imaging techniques and more efficient destruction of tumor initiating cells, thus improving clinical outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / pharmacology*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Cytotoxins / immunology
  • Cytotoxins / pharmacology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Recurrence
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cytotoxins