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Stem Cells. 2002;20(3):215-29.

Cell surface antigen and molecular targeting in the treatment of hematologic malignancies.

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Department of Pediatrics, Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, Gwynne-Hazen Cherry Memorial Laboratories, and the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, 90095-1752, USA.


Conventional cytotoxic therapy of hematologic malignancies is often associated with significant morbidity. This morbidity is often due to the lack of specificity for hematopoietic cells. Therefore, the concept of targeted therapy for patients with hematologic malignancies has received attention for many years. The goal of monoclonal antibody therapy is to target specific cell surface antigens on malignant hematopoietic cells, while sparing normal cells and tissues. Currently, monoclonal antibodies are being evaluated for their cytotoxic effects as well as their ability to deliver toxic agents or radiation. Rituximab, a chimeric anti-CD20 antibody, has shown response rates of approximately 50% with minimal toxicity in patients with refractory indolent lymphoma. Campath-1H (anti-CD52) has shown encouraging results in patients previously treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, with response rates up to 33%, although with significant toxicity. Anti-CD33 antibodies are being used to deliver cytotoxic agents, such as calicheamicin to patients with acute myeloid leukemia with response rates up to 30%. In addition, anti-CD33 and anti-CD45 antibodies have been used to deliver radiation directly to leukemic cells. (131)I-labeled anti-CD45 antibodies are being studied in combination with conventional preparative regimens in patients receiving bone marrow transplantation. Lastly, the therapeutic agent STI571 (signal transduction inhibitor 571) has demonstrated the capability of targeting specific molecular abnormalities seen in hematologic malignancies. STI571 targets the tyrosine kinase activity of the bcr-abl fusion protein seen in chronic myeloid leukemia. STI571 has induced complete hematologic responses in up to 98% of patients evaluated in clinical trials.

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