Despite great progress in the curative treatment of acute leukemia, outcomes for those with
relapsed and/or chemotherapy-refractory disease remain poor. Current intensive cytotoxic therapies can
be associated with significant morbidity and novel therapies are needed to improve outcomes. Immunotherapy
based approaches provide an alternative mechanism of action in the treatment of acute leukemia.
Due to cell surface antigen expression, leukemia in particular is amenable to targeted therapies,
such as antibody-based therapy. Based on the potential for non-overlapping toxicity, the possibility of
synergistic action with standard chemotherapy, and by providing a novel method to overcome chemotherapy
resistance, antibody-based therapies have shown potential for benefit. Modifications to standard
monoclonal antibodies, including drug conjugation and linkage to T-cells, may further enhance efficacy
of antibody-based therapies. Identifying the ideal timing for incorporation of antibody-based therapies,
within standard regimens, may lead to improvement in overall outcomes. This article will provide an
overview of antibody-based therapies in clinical development for the treatment of acute leukemia in
children and adults, with a particular focus on the current strategies and future developments.