Due to their excellent specificity for a single epitope, monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) present a means of influencing the function of cells at the molecular level. In particular they show great promise in the treatment of cancer because they can inhibit cancer cell proliferation, tumor angiogenesis, invasiveness and malignant spread of cancerous cells. Many mAbs are in various stages of testing and 11 are currently marketed in the US or Europe for the treatment of cancers that express particular antigens such as human epidermal growth factor receptor-2, CD20, epidermal growth factor receptor and vascular endothelial growth factor. Strategies to conjugate mAbs to toxins, radioactive isotopes and chemotherapeutic drugs to improve efficacy are under intense investigation and numerous immunoconjugates have been studied in the clinical setting. However, the molecules have limitations, and so nanomaterials (NMs), which potentially offer more flexibility of design and functionality in providing platforms for binding of multiple therapeutic agents in a single structure, are being examined as an alternative. Studies utilizing mAb-targeted NMs have shown that they exhibit focused targeting, improved pharmacokinetics and improved "passive" drug delivery via leaky vasculature. Nevertheless, before they can be utilized to treat cancer, potential NM toxicity must be thoroughly investigated. Thus, rigorous testing of NM-mAb conjugates in both in vitro and in vivo systems is underway to determine how NM-mAb conjugates will interact with cells and tissues of the body. In this review, we discuss the broad range of nanomaterials that are under investigation as potential platforms for the presentation of mAbs either as single therapeutics or in combination with other drugs and their advantages and limitations in specifically targeting cancer.
Julien, D. C., Behnke, S., Wang, G. K., Murdoch, G. K., & Hill, R. A. (2011). Utilization of monoclonal antibody-targeted nanomaterials in the treatment of cancer. mAbs, 3(5), 467-478. https://doi.org/10.4161/mabs.3.5.16089