Immunotherapy of cancer: From monoclonal to oligoclonal cocktails of anti-cancer antibodies: IUPHAR Review 18

Silvia Carvalho, Francesca Levi-Schaffer, Michael Sela, Yosef Yarden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Antibody-based therapy of cancer employs monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific to soluble ligands, membrane antigens of T-lymphocytes or proteins located at the surface of cancer cells. The latter mAbs are often combined with cytotoxic regimens, because they block survival of residual fractions of tumours that evade therapy-induced cell death. Antibodies, along with kinase inhibitors, have become in the last decade the mainstay of oncological pharmacology. However, partial and transient responses, as well as emergence of tumour resistance, currently limit clinical application of mAbs. To overcome these hurdles, oligoclonal antibody mixtures are being tested in animal models and in clinical trials. The first homo-combination of two mAbs, each engaging a distinct site of HER2, an oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK), has been approved for treatment of breast cancer. Likewise, a hetero-combination of antibodies to two distinct T-cell antigens, PD1 and CTLA4, has been approved for treatment of melanoma. In a similar vein, additive or synergistic anti-tumour effects observed in animal models have prompted clinical testing of hetero-combinations of antibodies simultaneously engaging distinct RTKs. We discuss the promise of antibody cocktails reminiscent of currently used mixtures of chemotherapeutics and highlight mechanisms potentially underlying their enhanced clinical efficacy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1407-1424
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Nadege Gaborit, Ruth Maron, Dan Aderka and Bilha Schechter for their collaboration. Our laboratories are supported by the European Research Council, the Israel Cancer Research Fund the Rosetrees Foundation, the Israel Science Foundation, the Israel Cancer Association and the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation. Y.Y. is the incumbent of the Harold and Zelda Goldenberg Professorial Chair, and M.S. is the incumbent of the W. Garfield Weston Chair. Yarden's team is located at the Marvin Tanner Laboratory for Research on Cancer. NC-IUPHAR receives financial support from the Wellcome Trust.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The British Pharmacological Society.


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