The introduction of rituximab for B cell lymphoma in the late 1990s inaugurated a new era of cancer therapy showcasing mAbs. mAbs are in principle an amalgamation of two characteristics of a perfect anticancer drug. First, rituximab is a therapy targeted to the tumor cell, but it carries fewer side effects than does chemotherapy. Second, with its ability to directly engage the host immune system, it could potentially elicit longer lasting anticancer immunity, although this remains to be proven. This review highlights the fundamental scientific discoveries that allowed the development of clinically successful anti-CD20 mAbs. Since the approval of rituximab, a considerable amount of work has been undertaken by different groups trying to understand the workings and limitations of anti-CD20s. All of these efforts will be critical in designing new mAbs to CD20 and other targets and, ultimately, of anticancer mAbs that will improve on, or even replace, chemotherapy.
Copyright © 2014 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.