Monoclonal antibodies have been suggested as an ideal treatment for blood malignancies, but identifying the most efficacious molecules has previously proved difficult. In 8 July advanced online Nature Medicine, Zoltan Nagy and colleagues from GPC Biotech AG, Munich, Germany, show that fully human, HLA-DR-specific monoclonal antibodies can efficiently induce apoptosis in malignant lymphoid cells (Nat Med 2002, DOI:10.1038/nm).

Nagy et al. engineered IgG antibodies specific to human leukocyte antigen-DR (HLA-DR). They observed that HLA-DR antibodies have potent in vitro tumoricidal activity on several types of lymphoma and leukemia cells, including those from chronic lymphocytic leukemia patient samples and xenograft models of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cell death occurred rapidly, without the need for exogenous immunological effector mechanisms, and was selective to activated/tumor-transformed cells.

"Such monoclonal antibodies offer the potential for a novel therapeutic approach to lymphoid malignancies," conclude the authors.

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