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Antibody-based cancer therapy


Over the past 25 years, antibody therapeutics have emerged as clinically and commercially successful pharmaceuticals, rapidly approaching 100 Food and Drug Administration approvals with combined annual global sales exceeding $100 billion. Nearly half of the marketed antibody therapeutics are used in oncology. These antibody-based cancer therapies can be broken down into three categories based on their different mechanisms of action, i.e., (i) natural properties, (ii) engagement of cytotoxic T cells, and (iii) delivery of cytotoxic payloads. Both natural and engineered properties of the antibody molecule are founded on its highly stable and modular architecture. In this review we provide an overview and outlook of the rapidly evolving landscape of antibody-based cancer therapy.

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Fig. 1: Structural and functional modularity of the antibody molecule.
Fig. 2: Structural and functional diversity of FDA-approved T-cell engaging antibodies.
Fig. 3: Composition of FDA-approved ADCs.


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We acknowledge support by predoctoral stipends from the Klorfine Foundation and the Frenchman’s Creek Women for Cancer Research (to R.S.G.) and National Institutes of Health Grants R01 CA174844, R01 CA181258, R01 CA204484, and R21 CA229961 (to C.R.). We thank Dr. HaJeung Park from the X-Ray Crystallography Core of The Scripps Research Institute (Jupiter, FL) for contributing Fig. 1C.

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Correspondence to Christoph Rader.

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Goydel, R.S., Rader, C. Antibody-based cancer therapy. Oncogene 40, 3655–3664 (2021).

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