Submit Manuscript  

Article Details

Biological Therapy of Hematologic Malignancies: Toward a Chemotherapy- free Era

[ Vol. 26 , Issue. 6 ]


Pavel Klener Jr, Tomas Etrych and Pavel Klener*   Pages 1002 - 1018 ( 17 )


Less than 70 years ago, the vast majority of hematologic malignancies were untreatable diseases with fatal prognoses. The development of modern chemotherapy agents, which had begun after the Second World War, was markedly accelerated by the discovery of the structure of DNA and its role in cancer biology and tumor cell division. The path travelled from the first temporary remissions observed in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated with single-agent antimetabolites until the first cures achieved by multi-agent chemotherapy regimens was incredibly short. Despite great successes, however, conventional genotoxic cytostatics suffered from an inherently narrow therapeutic index and extensive toxicity, which in many instances limited their clinical utilization. In the last decade of the 20th century, increasing knowledge on the biology of certain malignancies resulted in the conception and development of first molecularly targeted agents designed to inhibit specific druggable molecules involved in the survival of cancer cells. Advances in technology and genetic engineering enabled the production of structurally complex anticancer macromolecules called biologicals, including therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates and antibody fragments. The development of drug delivery systems (DDSs), in which conventional drugs were attached to various types of carriers including nanoparticles, liposomes or biodegradable polymers, represented an alternative approach to the development of new anticancer agents. Despite the fact that the antitumor activity of drugs attached to DDSs was not fundamentally different, the improved pharmacokinetic profiles, decreased toxic side effects and significantly increased therapeutic indexes resulted in their enhanced antitumor efficacy compared to conventional (unbound) drugs.

Approval of the first immune checkpoint inhibitor for the treatment of cancer in 2011 initiated the era of cancer immunotherapy. Checkpoint inhibitors, bispecific T-cell engagers, adoptive T-cell approaches and cancer vaccines have joined the platform so far, represented mainly by recombinant cytokines, therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and immunomodulatory agents. In specific clinical indications, conventional drugs have already been supplanted by multi-agent, chemotherapy-free regimens comprising diverse immunotherapy and/or targeted agents. The very distinct mechanisms of the anticancer activity of new immunotherapy approaches not only call for novel response criteria, but might also change fundamental treatment paradigms of certain types of hematologic malignancies in the near future.


Hematologic malignancies, biologicals, monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, antibody- drug conjugates (ADC), biodegradable polymers, immunomodulatory agents (IMiD), bispecific T-cell engagers (BiTE).


First Medical Department- Dept. of Hematology, First Faculty of Medicine and General University Hospital, Charles University, Department of biomedical polymers, Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Heyrovského náměstí 2, 162 06 Prague, First Medical Department- Dept. of Hematology, First Faculty of Medicine and General University Hospital, Charles University

Read Full-Text article