Therapeutic Targeting of CD6 in Autoimmune Diseases: A Review of Cuban Clinical Studies with the Antibodies IOR-T1 and Itolizumab

Curr Drug Targets. 2016;17(6):666-77. doi: 10.2174/1389450117666160201114308.


The CD6 molecule is a pan T cell marker involved in T cell regulation. Although CD6 expression has been correlated with human autoimmune diseases, only a few therapeutic approaches are exploring this molecule as target in the clinic. The biological functions and mechanisms of actions of CD6 have not been definitively established. It is probable that this molecule plays a dual role as a modulator of intracellular signaling. Itolizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody specific for human CD6, developed at the Center of Molecular Immunology in Havana, Cuba. Its parent murine antibody, the IOR-T1 mAb, had been obtained in the 80's at the Institute of Oncology and Radiology, also in Havana. This article provides an overview of the clinical data obtained in Cuban patients with autoimmune diseases who have been treated with IOR-T1 mAb or itolizumab. Furthermore, we discuss the possible mechanism of action of itolizumab basing the analysis on recent site mutagenesis and structural data, which, contrary to previous interpretations, points to a steric blocking of the CD6-CD166 interaction in the cellular context. Overall, the conducted clinical studies have demonstrated that itolizumab has favorable clinical effects and a safety profile when used as monotherapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. So far, in vitro and in vivo evidences indicate that itolizumab has immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects. Hence, itolizumab represents a new therapeutic option for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / metabolism*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / metabolism
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cuba
  • Fetal Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • ALCAM protein, human
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD6 antigen
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Fetal Proteins
  • itolizumab