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Oncotarget. 2018 Nov 6;9(87):35790-35794. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.26271. eCollection 2018 Nov 6.

Attaining threshold antibody cytotoxicity for selective tumor cell destruction: an opinion article.

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lmmanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Kaliningrad, Russia.
Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Immunology, Novosibirsk, Russia.


We propose a novel immunotherapeutic paradigm that justifies application of several antibodies to various membrane-associated antigens to achieve a critical threshold density of immune complexes on the surface of cancer cells sufficient for triggering downstream cytolytic pathways. Indeed, some cancer-associated antigens (such as cancer/testis antigens) were found to be expressed on many cancer (but not normal) cells, with their baseline membrane expression levels being originally quite low for some of them, or even further down-regulated due to immune-driven cell selection. To achieve the mandatory threshold density of membrane-associated immune complexes on malignant cells, the concept stipulates combined application of antibodies specific for a cancer-associated antigen along with antibodies against an antigen expressed not only on tumor, but also on normal cells. In the proposed scenario it is of vital importance that the latter antibodies should be applied in suboptimal dosage to exclude the destruction of normal cells devoid of a cancer-associated antigen. Malignant cells often co-express antigens not present concurrently on normal cells at high levels. In such cases, suboptimal dosages of antibodies specific for those antigens could also be applied to achieve cumulative effect leading to selective destruction of tumour cells. Hence, the described immunotherapeutic technology could be used metaphorically speaking as a kind of 'immunological knife', which is capable of highly selective destruction of cancer cells without destroying normal cells.


antibody-mediated cytotoxicity; immune complex; therapeutic antibody; tumor destruction

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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