Dedication and perseverance are the tools used in the last thirty years to develop and approve antibodies for cancer prevention. Monoclonal antibodies, or “Mabs”, have been the result of medical researchers’ long and laborious hours behind microscopes, hoping to perfect the use of these cancer-fighting cells for doctors all over the world.
What their discoveries have done for cancer patients is tremendous, especially since the number of individuals within the United States diagnosed with some form of cancer continue to rise each year. By using Mabs, doctors and medical practitioners will have one more weapon to use against the silent, yet deadly killer known as cancer.
The American Cancer Society’s (AMC) web site explains that monoclonal antibodies were first developed in laboratories using mice with myeloma cells, which is a kind of bone marrow cancer, and mice that produced specific antibodies for those cells. The combination of these two cells, called a hybridoma cell, forces a perpetual factory making antibodies. The antibodies end up being identical clones of the original hybridoma cell, which is why they are called monoclonal antibodies.
The problem scientists faced with this phenomenal finding was that human antibodies recognized the mouse-produced antibodies as foreign invaders and attacked them. With hard work and dedication, scientists are continuing to develop ways to integrate human antibodies in lieu of mouse antibodies so cancer patients will be able to use the immunotherapy as a form of treatment.
Today there are two types of Mabs, naked and conjugated. The difference between these two lies in the fact that naked antibodies lack radioactive materials attached to them. Conjugated antibodies, on the other hand, are fused with a chemotherapy drug or other toxin used to fight off cancer cells. In recent years the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several Mabs, both naked and conjugated, for cancer treatments.
A list of approved Mabs is available through the ACA’s web site. In 2004 and in 2006, Bevacizumab, a naked antibody, was approved for treating certain types of breast cancers. In 2001 the FDA approved the use of Alemuzumab, a naked antibody, which acts as a form of leukemia prevention by attaching itself to both B and T cancer cells, causing the body’s immune system to attack and kill them. In 2000, the FDA approved the use of a conjugated antibody, Gemtuzumab ozogamicin, which is used in the treatment of chronic leukemia.
Each year cancer claims thousands of victims. Findings from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturer of America show that more than 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, close to 150,000 men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and over 30,000 men will die from prostate cancer this year. Given these numbers, it is not hard to understand why the use and continual research of Mabs is critical to our society.
The recent approval of a vaccine used to protect women from the Human Papilloma Virus, a known link to the development of cervical cancer, demonstrates that research laboratories are on the brink of helping find more antibodies for cancer prevention, providing hope that the number of cancer patients will begin to decline.
Success often outweighs the failures that scientists and pharmaceutical researchers experience when trying to successfully find treatments for cancer and other deadly diseases. The triumphs experienced within the last several decades have come in the form of antibodies for cancer prevention. The Mabs that have received approval by the FDA are now being used in the healing of cancer patients all over the world. As time goes by, these treatments will be further developed and perfected, helping lead the way in cancer protection and treatment for generations to come.