Supporting the Immune System

Some targeted therapies act by helping the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

  • Rituximab (Rituxan®) is a monoclonal antibody that is approved to treat certain types of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and, when combined with other drugs, to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It recognizes a molecule called CD20 that is found on B cells. When rituximab binds to these cells, it triggers an immune response that results in their destruction. Rituximab may also induce apoptosis.
  • Alemtuzumab (Campath®) is approved to treat patients with B-cell CLL. It is a monoclonal antibody that is directed against CD52, a protein found on the surface of normal and malignant B and T cells and many other cells of the immune system. Binding of alemtuzumab to CD52 triggers an immune response that destroys the cells.
  • Ofatumumab (Arzerra®) is approved for the treatment of some patients with CLL that does not respond to treatment with fludarabine and alemtuzumab. This monoclonal antibody is directed against the B-cell CD20 cell surface antigen.
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