The clinical application potential of monoclonal antibodies concerns a wide range of diseases including, among others, viral infections, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Intravenous injection is a simple and obvious mode of administration of purified therapeutic antibodies to patients but may not always be appropriate for longterm treatments for a variety of reasons. One limitation concerns the elevated costs of recombinant proteins certified for human use. Moreover, hour-long infusions require a hospital environment and are often associated with mild to very severe side effects. This makes large-scale clinical applications of a number of monoclonal antibodies with demonstrated therapeutic activity impossible or, at least, severely compromised. In vivo production of therapeutic antibodies in patients, through either genetic modification of their tissues or implantation of antibody-producing cells, might represent an attractive alternative to overcome these drawbacks. Moreover, this method should also provide other benefits. Continuous and sustained delivery of antibodies at a low, but therapeutic level should prevent, or at least delay, induction of neutralizing anti-idiotypic immune responses, which sometimes develop when massive doses of purified immunoglobulins are repeatedly injected into patients. Additionally, it should also limit variations in the bioavailability of therapeutic antibodies that are often detrimental to the efficacy of treatments. The present review reports on the recent developments of gene / cell therapies aiming at the in vivo production and systemic delivery of monoclonal antibodies with the final goal of treating severe chronic diseases.
Keywords: monoclonal antibodies, gene transfer, gene therapy, cell therapy, immunotherapy, cancer, viral diseases, autoimmune diseases
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