Monoclonal Antibodies MAB (Biological Agents)
An example of such a monoclonal antibody approved in Europe is Cetuximab. Another target can be the vessels which provide blood to the tumour itself. By blocking this mechanism and ultimately choking the blood supply to the tumour, this can delay progression of the cancer, or shrink the tumour itself. Bevacizumab is another example of such a monoclonal antibody approved in Europe. Monoclonal antibodies are usually used in combination with chemotherapy and have greatly improved response rates as well as significantly prolonging survival times.
“Monoclonal” - means all one type. “Antibody” - is a protein in your immune system that recognises and attacks foreign substances
So a monoclonal antibody is a treatment designed to recognise and target only one type of foreign substance (e.g. cancer cells).
There are three MAB treatments for colorectal cancer:
- Bevacizumab (Avastin)
- Cetuximab (Erbitux)
- Panitumumab (Vectibix)
These treatments seek out cancer cells that produce too much of a particular growth factor (a substance which stimulates a cell to grow and divide) and block the cell's receptors so the cell can't receive the signal to grow.
The development of monoclonal antibody treatments is an exciting development in the treatment of cancer as it may be possible to kill cancer cells without damaging other healthy cells.