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Biotechnol J. 2006 Feb;1(2):138-47.

Cancer immunotherapy.

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  • 1Apeiron Biologics Forschungs- und Entwicklungs-GmbH, Brunnerstrasse 59, 1230 Vienna, Austria.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the industrialized world. Most cancer patients are treated by a combination of surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. Whereas the primary tumor can, in most cases, be efficiently treated by a combination of these standard therapies, preventing the metastatic spread of the disease through disseminated tumor cells is often not effective. The eradication of disseminated tumor cells present in the blood circulation and micro-metastases in distant organs therefore represents another promising approach in cancer immunotherapy. Main strategies of cancer immunotherapy aim at exploiting the therapeutic potential of tumor-specific antibodies and cellular immune effector mechanisms. Whereas passive antibody therapy relies on the repeated application of large quantities of tumor antigen-specific antibodies, active immunotherapy aims at the generation of a tumor-specific immune response combining both humoral and cytotoxic T cell effector mechanisms by the host's immune system following vaccination. In the first part of this review, concurrent developments in active and passive cancer immunotherapy are discussed. In the second part, the various approaches for the production of optimized monoclonal antibodies used for anti-cancer vaccination are summarized.

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