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Oncologist. 2008 Jun;13(6):657-67. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2008-0020.

Radiolabeled and native antibodies and the prospect of cure of follicular lymphoma.

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  • 1Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA. Franz.Buchegger@CHUV.CH


Advanced-stage follicular lymphoma is incurable by conventional treatment. Rituximab has been introduced in various combinations with chemotherapy and has resulted in a significantly superior treatment outcome compared with chemotherapy alone. Multiple studies have also shown the efficacy of radioimmunotherapy (RIT) both as a single agent and in combination with chemotherapy. Rituximab and RIT have clearly distinct mechanisms of action, the first acting exclusively as a biological treatment, while the second acts by a combination of biologic mechanisms and radiation effects. Despite the therapeutic efficacy of both approaches, the potential exists to further improve both modalities. Repeat administrations of RIT using appropriate radioisotopes for treatment of residual disease or new targeting strategies might afford additional benefits. Unlabeled antibody treatment could potentially benefit from the combination of antibodies directed against different target antigens or combination therapy with cytokines capable of further mobilizing patients' cellular defenses. In this review, we hypothesize that the combination of an optimized biological treatment together with radiolabeled antibodies and chemotherapy early in the disease course of advanced-stage follicular lymphoma may represent the best approach to achieve prolonged disease-free survival and eventually cure.

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