Affiliation: Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Padova, via Marzolo 5, 35131 Padova.
The recent approval of cetuximab and bevacizumab by FDA for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer witnesses the investments of biotech companies in the development of monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) as cancer therapeutics. Several analyses point to the growth of the market for these drugs, and forecast an even higher expansion of sales following completion of several clinical trials, both of approved Mabs tested for other cancers, and of new Mabs aimed at different tumor antigens. Not unsurprisingly, the latest additions to the number of therapeutic Mabs belong to the classes of chimeric and humanized antibodies. A great effort has been made in the last years to overcome the intrinsic limitations of the technology used to produce monoclonal antibodies. The knowledge accumulated in the search of newer ways of production of recombinant therapeutic proteins is reflected by the number of fully human Mabs in the pipeline. Moreover, a thorough understanding of the cellular and molecular events underlying the activity of cancer-aimed antibodies allows the optimisation of these drugs for the treatment of high incidence solid tumors.