Antibody-Toxin Conjugates as Potential Therapeutic Agents

  • D. Caird Edwards
  • Philip E. Thorpe
  • Anthony J. S. Davies
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 47)


In his book ‘Selective Toxicity’, Adrian Albert1 gave three main principles upon which he averred drug selectivity to depend. Defining the living matter to be injured as the “uneconomic species”, the principles were (1) accumulation by, (2) injury to a chemical system important for, and (3) exclusive reaction with cytological features of, the uneconomic species. Commonly, more than one of these principles was to be seen in the action of any selective agent. These rules provide a set of guidelines to be followed in the design and testing of new agents, the functional partition being particularly useful in the present discussion of antibodies, toxins and their conjugates. The role of antibody is to be accumulated, hopefully in an exclusive fashion, by antigenic cytological features presented by the target cells. This interaction itself need not be harmful but fulfils two of Albert’s three principles. For their part the toxins, such as diphtheria toxin, abrin or ricin, are extremely powerful cytotoxic agents but they lack the exquisite tissue binding specificities which antibodies can be prepared to have. By producing chemical conjugates of antibodies and toxins the hope is to combine the desirable qualities of specificity of binding and effectiveness in killing in order to generate a new series of chemotherapeutic agents accumulated by and highly injurious to the uneconomic species.


Diphtheria Toxin Selective Toxicity Mumps Virus Human Lymphoblastoid Cell Radiolabelled Antibody 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Caird Edwards
    • 1
  • Philip E. Thorpe
    • 1
  • Anthony J. S. Davies
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Cancer Research: Royal Cancer HospitalChester Beatty Research InstituteLondonEngland

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