The first antibody therapy for cancer: a personal experience

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More than 100 years ago, Paul Ehrlich proposed that antibodies could be used for therapeutic purposes. Little progress was achieved until Köhler and Milstein developed hybridoma technology in the 1970s. In 1997, rituximab, the first antibody for the treatment of cancer, was approved. Its development (laboratory and clinical) broke records, provided proof of concept for antibodies as anticancer agents and opened the floodgates for research in the area. Rituximab, in combination with cyclophosphamide, hydroxydaunorubicin, oncovin and prednisone chemotherapy, was proven to increase the cure rate for patients with diffuse large cell lymphoma. Hopefully, over the next decades, we will find additional indications where antibodies in combination with other agents result in making patients cancer free, provide long-term survival and cures.

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