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Research Article

Principles of antibody therapy.

BMJ 1992; 305 doi: (Published 05 December 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;305:1424
  1. S. J. Russell,
  2. M. B. Llewelyn,
  3. R. E. Hawkins
  1. MRC Centre, Cambridge.


    The success of monoclonal antibodies in clinical practice is dependent on good design. Finding a suitable target is the most important part as other properties of the antibody can be altered by genetic engineering. Antibodies that target lymphocyte antigens offer less toxic immunosuppressive treatment than currently available drugs and the first monoclonal antibody approved for human use is an immunosuppressive agent for treating rejection of renal transplants. Human trails of monoclonal antibodies to treat septic shock have been done and antibodies are also being developed to target common pathogens such as herpes simplex virus. Although monoclonal antibodies against cancer have been much heralded, their success has been limited by the poor access to the inside of tumours. Treatment of blood cancers has been more successful and a human antibody against B cell malignancies is being clinically tested. As knowledge about natural immune responses and antibody engineering increases many more monoclonals are likely to feature in clinical practice.