Antibodies Stage a Comeback in Cancer Treatment

Science  22 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5367, pp. 1196-1197
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5367.1196

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In 1982, an immunologist reported vanquishing cancer in a patient using antibodies custom-designed to attack his own lymphoma cells, but in subsequent testing of other antibodies, the effects in humans didn't match those in mice and unexpected toxicity even killed patients, bringing clinical trials to an abrupt halt. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an antilymphoma antibody, and just last week, researchers announced some success with an antibody tailored to fight recalcitrant breast cancers that is nearing regulatory approval. But researchers caution that antibodies will never replace conventional cancer chemotherapy drugs; in fact, results so far show that they may work best when combined with those drugs.