Monoclonal antibodies: potential new therapeutic treatment against multiple myeloma


Correspondence Prof. Caterina Musolino, Division of Haematology, University of Messina, Via Consolare Valeria 98124 Messina, Italy. Tel: +39 090 221 2364; Fax: +39 090 2212355; e-mail:


Despite recent treatments, such as bortezomib, thalidomide, and lenalidomide, therapy of multiple myeloma (MM) is limited, and MM remains an incurable disease associated with high mortality. The outcome of patients treated with cytotoxic therapy has not been satisfactory. Therefore, new therapies are needed for relapsed MM. A new anticancer strategy is the use of monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) that represent the best available combination of tumor cytotoxicity, environmental signal privation, and immune system redirection. Clinical results in patients with relapsed/refractory MM suggest that MoAbs are likely to operate synergistically with traditional therapies (dexamethasone), immune modulators (thalidomide, lenalidomide), and other novel therapies (bortezomib); in addition, MoAbs have shown the ability to overcome resistance to these therapies. It remains to be defined how MoAb therapy can most fruitfully be incorporated into the current therapeutic paradigms that have achieved significant survival earnings in patients with MM. This will require careful consideration of the optimal sequence of treatments and their clinical position as either short-term induction therapy, frontline therapy in patients ineligible for ASCT, or long-term maintenance treatment.