Monoclonal antibodies (MAB) have revolutionized the treatment of CLL and other types of lymphoma as they provide a way of targeting a specific cell using the immune system.
The first generation of monoclonal antibodies were created by immunizing mice with the target antigen or surface protein of the cancer cell. Because the resulting monoclonal antibodies were entirely comprised of mouse or rat (murine) proteins, they carried a small, but real risk of a life‐threatening reaction in patients during infusion. Also, patients often developed anti‐murine protein antibodies, which could neutralize the benefits of the MAB.
Newer monoclonal antibodies contain an increased proportion of human components and decreased murine components that helps overcome these limitations. Here is a simplified overview on how they are named:
- Murine antibodies are 100% murine (identified by the suffix “‐omab” in the drug name)
- Chimeric antibodies are <85% human (“–ximab” suffix) i.e. rituximab
- Humanized antibodies are 85% or greater human (“‐zumab” suffix) i.e. obinutuzumab
- Human antibodies are nearly 100% human (“‐umab” suffix) i.e. ofatumumab
Knowing the naming helps.
Please note that infusion reactions can happen with any type of MAB and may be even more common in those antibodies that aggressively bind to their target.
For a deeper explanation on MAB nomenclature please see this but it does get complicated.
For even more detail on the naming conventions across many different aspects of medical practice, please read this.
Dr. Brian Koffman, a well-known retired doctor, educator, and clinical professor turned patient has dedicated himself to teaching and helping the CLL community since his diagnosis in 2005. He serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the CLL Society Inc.
Originally published in The CLL Society Tribune Q2 2020.