Alemtuzumab (marketed as Campath or Campath-1H) is a monoclonal antibody used in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and T-cell lymphoma. Alemtuzumab targets CD52, a protein present on the surface of mature lymphocytes, but not on the stem cells from which these lymphocytes were derived. It is used as second line therapy for CLL. It was approved by the FDA for patients who have been treated with alkylating agents and who have failed fludarabine therapy.
A significant complication of therapy with alemtuzumab is that it significantly increses the risk for opportunistic infections, in particular, reactivation of cytomegalovirus.
Alemtuzumab is also used in some conditioning regimens for bone marrow transplantation.
The origins of alemtuzumab date back to Campath-1 which was derived from the mouse antibodies raised against human lymphocyte proteins (Hale et al 1983). The name "Campath" derives from the pathology department of Cambridge University.) Initially, Campath-1 was unsuitable for therapy because patients reacted against the foreign mouse protein of the antibody. To circumvent this problem, Greg Winter and his colleagues humanised Campath-1, by extracting the hypervariable loops that had specificity for CD52 and grafted it onto a human antibody framework. This became known as Campath-1H and serves as the basis for alemtuzumab (Riechmann et al 1988).
* Hale G, Bright S, Chumbley G, Hoang T, Metcalf D, Munro AJ, Waldmann H. Removal of T cells from bone marrow for transplantation: a monoclonal antilymphocyte antibody that fixes human complement. Blood 1983;62:873-82. PMID 6349718.
* Riechmann L, Clark M, Waldmann H, Winter G. Reshaping human antibodies for therapy. Nature 1988;332:323-7. PMID 3127726.
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