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Immunotoxins in the Treatment of Hematologic Malignancies

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Immunotoxins, composed of protein toxins connected to cell binding ligands including monoclonal antibodies and growth factors, have been developed for several decades to target hematologic malignancies. Protein toxins from either plants or bacteria are extremely potent based on their enzymatic inhibition of protein synthesis and induction of apoptosis. Plant toxins, particularly ricin, are useful for chemically conjugating to monoclonal antibodies, and have shown clinical activity in several types of lymphoma and leukemia. Their dose is generally limited by vascular leak syndrome. Bacterial toxins have been used to produce single chain fusions with either growth factors or recombinant antibody fragments. These agents are smaller in size (55-65 kDa) and exit the bloodstream much more rapidly than the chemical conjugates, and generally do not cause severe vascular leak syndrome. The only approved drug containing a protein toxin is denileukin diftitox, a fusion of human interleukin 2 with truncated diphtheria toxin. Denileukin diftitox has shown efficacy in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Recombinant immunotoxin BL22 is an anti-CD22 Fv fragment fused to truncated Pseudomonas exotoxin; it induces complete remissions in a high percentage of patients with chemoresistant hairy cell leukemia. The anti-CD25 recombinant immunotoxin LMB-2 is active in several CD25+ hematologic malignancies. Several other recombinant immunotoxins are undergoing preclinical development for other target antigens expressed on hematologic malignancies.

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Keywords: CD22; CD25; CD30; CD64; CD7; Fv; Pseudomonas exotoxin; Toxin; leukemia; lymphoma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Clinical Immunotherapy Section, Labortary ofMolecular Biology, 9000 Rockville Pike, Building 37, Room 5124b, Bethesda, MD 20892-4255, USA.

Publication date: 2006-10-01

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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