Monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of cancer

Semin Cancer Biol. 2012 Feb;22(1):3-13. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2011.12.009. Epub 2012 Jan 8.


Over the past decade, the clinical utility of monoclonal antibodies has been realized and antibodies are now a mainstay for the treatment of cancer. Antibodies have the unique capacity to target and kill tumor cells while simultaneously activating immune effectors to kill tumor cells through the complement cascade or antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). This multifaceted mechanism of action combined with target specificity underlies the capacity of antibodies to elicit anti-tumor responses while minimizing the frequency and magnitude of adverse events. This review will focus on mechanisms of action, clinical applications and putative mechanisms of resistance to monoclonal antibody therapy in the context of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity / drug effects*
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / drug effects*
  • Drug Resistance / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunologic Factors