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Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2015;15 Suppl 1:S31-9. doi: 10.1517/14712598.2015.1017466. Epub 2015 Jun 22.

Historical review on thymosin α1 in oncology: preclinical and clinical experiences.

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University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Department of Experimental Medicine and Surgery , Rome , Italy +39 6 7259 6462 ; +39 6 7259 6550 ;



Thymosin α1 (Tα1) is a naturally occurring polypeptide that regulates immune cell development and function, and is also capable of interacting with multiple target cells with relevant biological effects. The rationale of Tα1 use in cancer treatment stems from the consideration that tumor progression is favored by a failure of the immune response and in turn induces immune suppression. This paper will review the historical background of Tα1 use in oncology, aiming to highlight the importance of Tα1 as an immunotherapeutic tool to be used in combination with chemotherapy, a concept that is not yet fully established in clinic.


The efficacy and safety of combining Tα1 with chemotherapy and cytokines were first evaluated in murine tumor models, providing essential information about effects, mechanisms of action, doses and treatment protocols. The therapeutic potential of the chemo-immunotherapy protocol on metastatic melanoma and lung cancer has been confirmed in controlled clinical trials. Critical for the efficacy of the chemo-immunotherapy protocol is the dual action of Tα1 on immune effector and tumor cells.


On the basis of the preclinical and clinical results available, the use of the chemo-immunotherapy protocol, in which the role of Tα1 is central, is strongly recommended.


cancer; chemotherapy; experimental tumor models; immune modulation; thymosin α1

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