Clinical and Experimental Medicine

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 81–92 | Cite as

Immunomodulation in the treatment of haematological malignancies

  • Michela Cesco-GaspereEmail author
  • Emma Morris
  • Hans J. Stauss
Review Article


Despite the continuous advances in immunology and cancer biology, haematological malignancies are often incurable. Conventional chemotherapy and radiation are efficacious for some lymphoma and leukaemia, however relapse and progressive disease often occurs. The evidence that the immune system can play an essential role in controlling cancer progression provide a basis for the development of active therapies, such as immunization, aimed to evoke or amplify a tumour-specific immune response. However, the inability of the patient’s own immune system to mount effective responses against tumour antigens is a major limit of vaccination approaches. The adoptive transfer of effectors of the adaptive immune system is an attractive strategy to circumvent the limitations of autologous immune responses. Donor lymphocyte infusion and the transfer of monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) have been the first forms of adoptive therapy approved for clinical use and are still fundamental components of immunotherapy of haematological malignancies. Due to the continuous characterization of tumour-specific antigen, the development of tumour-tailored therapies that exploit the specificity of antibodies and T cell receptors (TCRs) is progressing rapidly. This review highlights the current advances in the field of adoptive immunotherapy of haematological malignancies, starting by elucidating the ongoing progress in passive transfer of MoAbs. We will also discuss recent advances in the adoptive transfer with tumour-specific high avidity T cells, which can be generated ex vivo by the transfer of gene constructs encoding single chain antibodies or TCRs, thus redirecting T cell specificity to selected tumour antigens. The ability to produce gene-modified T cells of desired specificity and defined functional activity may improve in the future T cell based immunotherapy of cancer.


Adoptive therapy Monoclonal antibodies Leukaemia T-cell receptor 



M. Cesco-Gaspere is supported by Leukaemia Research Funding.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest related to the publication of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michela Cesco-Gaspere
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emma Morris
    • 1
  • Hans J. Stauss
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Immunology and Molecular PathologyUniversity College Medical SchoolLondonUK

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