Immunotoxins and central nervous system neoplasia

Walter A. Hall M.D. 1 and Øystein Fodstad M.D., Ph.D. 1
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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinic, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Department of Tumor Biology, Institute of Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo, Norway
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✓ The poor prognosis associated with central nervous system (CNS) malignancy has led investigators to seek new, innovative treatment modalities. Immunotoxins, carrier molecules linked to toxic agents, combine high specificity for tumor-associated antigens with extreme potency. The rationale for both the development of these compounds and for their application to CNS neoplasia is explained. This report discusses the design and construction of immunoconjugates, using toxins that differ in their mechanism of action bound to ligands directed against various antigens. A comparison is made between the in vitro efficacy of standard chemotherapy and immunotoxins in glioblastoma- and medulloblastoma-derived cell lines. A review is included of the results of experiments in animals with leptomeningeal neoplasia, where prolongation of survival following intrathecal administration of immunotoxins has been reported. The obstacles encountered in clinical trials with other types of cancer are addressed and approaches to optimize the use of these novel agents in the context of treating malignant disease of the CNS are suggested.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Walter A. Hall, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, University of Minnesota, Box 96 UMHC, 420 Delaware Street S.E., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455.
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