Antitumor immunity: easy as 1, 2, 3 with monoclonal bispecific trifunctional antibodies?

John Maher, Antonella Adami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Monoclonal antibodies occupy an increasing niche in the arsenal available to treat cancer. Several developments have rendered this the fastest growing sector in the pharmaceutical industry. Traditionally, antibodies were developed to block key signaling molecules implicated in tumor progression. However, antibodies also recruit additional immune effector mechanisms against tumors, a property that may be exploited for clinical benefit. Bispecific antibodies represent one such strategy in which elements derived from two monoclonal antibodies are incorporated into a single molecular species. Commonly, the bispecific approach is used to achieve simultaneous cross-linking of CD3 and a tumor antigen such as epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM), thereby recruiting T-cell activation to the tumor cell surface. A further sophistication involves the engineering of trifunctional derivatives such as the clinically approved agent, catumaxomab. Catumaxomab has antigen-binding arms that engage CD3 and EpCAM and a constant domain that recruits Fc receptor-bearing cells, notably monocytes, dendritic cells, and natural killer cells. Owing to this triangular binding capability, catumaxomab can activate both innate and adaptive immune effector mechanisms in addition to promoting immunologic memory. Recent data indicate that this agent can also promote immunogenic cell death, particularly when used in combination with selected chemotherapeutic agents such as oxaliplatin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5613-7.
JournalCancer Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2013


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