The preclinical and clinical activity of aviscumine: a potential anticancer drug

Eur J Cancer. 2011 Jul;47(10):1450-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2011.02.022. Epub 2011 Apr 12.


Extracts from the European mistletoe plant Viscumalbum have been studied for decades for their direct and indirect anticancer activity. Therefore, scientists were interested in identifying the active compound (mistletoe lectin) in these extracts and making it available as a highly purified molecule for drug development. Recombinant mistletoe lectin (INN: aviscumine) was produced in Escherichiacoli. It has been shown to have immunomodulatory and cytotoxic activity in invitro and in animal models and can target tumour cells. Clinical phase I studies also demonstrated immunomodulatory activity, which appears to have a positive effect on disease stabilisation. This review explores the current knowledge base for aviscumine's mechanism of action, efficacy and side-effects in both preclinical studies and clinical trials, and it considers aviscumine's potential as a cancer therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor / methods
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacology*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Rats
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Ribosome Inactivating Proteins, Type 2 / pharmacology*
  • Sialyltransferases / metabolism
  • Toxins, Biological / pharmacology*
  • Viscum album / metabolism


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Preparations
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribosome Inactivating Proteins, Type 2
  • Toxins, Biological
  • ribosome inactivating protein, Viscum
  • Sialyltransferases
  • ST6GAL1 protein, human