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November 27, 1987

Tumor Immunology

JAMA. 1987;258(20):2988-2992. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400200194025

THE IMMUNOLOGY of human tumors is evolving conceptually and in applications. Advances in molecular biology and biotechnology are contributing substantially to these changes through the production of monoclonal antibodies and lymphokines. New immune diagnostic procedures are extending the sensitivity of tumor detection techniques and, with certain tumors, are achieving a reordering of tumor classification and prognostic evaluation. Immune-based therapies are making a difference in some tumors. More effective interventions, however, are still being sought for many common neoplasms.

Human tumors differ antigenically from well-differentiated tissues, and tumor-associated antigens can be recognized by murine (or human) immune cells through the production of specific antibodies. These antibodies are being capitalized on for tumor classification and preferential delivery of toxic agents to tumors. Most tumors in man, however, are poorly immunogenic in the sense that they elicit little or no rejection reaction in the patient. An immune response, including antibody formation, can occur,