This series of biennial conferences has focused on the use of radiolabeled antibodies and peptides for cancer imaging and therapy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), and records developments leading to the availability of new diagnostic imaging agents, and, in 2002, the first radioimmunotherapeutic, ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin, IDEC Pharmaceuticals, La Jolla, CA; Ref. 9). A number of recent reviews has emphasized the difficulties in developing effective radioimmunotherapeutics for solid tumors (10, 11, 12), but the success of ibritumomab for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma therapy (13), and the advances being made with other radioimmunotherapeutics for treating this disease (14), encourage the continued efforts being made in other tumor types, which are less radioresponsive than the lymphomas.

Antibodies are becoming generally more prominent in the search and development of anticancer agents, with CD20 and HER2/neu antibodies already being used for the therapy of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer, respectively (15, 16), and the expectation that epidermal growth factor receptor and vascular endothelial growth factor antibodies will also become available commercially. Although each has shown evidence of antitumor activity when used alone, their major emphasis appears to be in combination with other modalities, especially chemotherapy. This is based on evidence that such antibodies can chemosensitize their target tumors, such that the chemotherapeutic effects can be enhanced when the drugs are combined with these antibodies. Because these antibodies target different antigens with different functions, and their mechanisms of action may also be different, it is intriguing to speculate regarding common mechanisms effecting chemosensitization.

This supplement contains articles presented in more abbreviated form at the ninth conference and covered a broader range of topic involving antibodies than just radioimmunoconjugates. This is because the organizers believed that radioimmunoconjugates is just one variation of anticancer antibodies and that some of the problems and mechanisms of action are similar to those encountered with other immunoconjugates and also with naked antibodies. Indeed, some of the immunconjugates, such as ibritumomab, include high doses of naked antibody as part of the therapeutic composite (13, 14). Therefore, we have assembled in this supplement a broad range of topics involving antibody therapy, such as angiogenesis factors, new lymphoma antibodies, solid tumor therapy, and use of bispecific antibody, pretargeting systems both preclinically and clinically. A total of 25 articles, complemented by a concluding review, are representative of the presentations made at the Ninth Conference held in Princeton, NJ, October 24–26, 2002. Unfortunately, however, the proceedings do not capture the stimulating interactions and communications that occurred at the conference, which attracts many new investigators as well as some of us who have been there from the beginning, such as Gerald and Sally DeNardo.

I thank the program committee for chairing the sessions and reviewing many of the manuscripts. I also thank my cochairmen, Edward A. Sausville and Ralph A. Reisfeld, for sharing the burden and responsibility of organizing the conference and reviewing the abstracts submitted for presentation. Rosaleen Church took on the administrative duties of completing these proceedings within a year of the conference, and I especially thank Robert M. Sharkey for relieving me of some of the editorial responsibilities. Finally, the conference and these proceedings would not be possible without the scientific contributors, the generous support of the contributing companies listed, and conference grants from the National Cancer Institute and New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research.

1

Supported in part by a grant from the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research and National Cancer Institute Conference Grant 1 R13 CA098009-01.

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