Immunotoxins are powerful tools to specifically eliminate deviated cells. Due to the side effects of the original immunotoxins, they were only considered for the treatment of cancer as in these cases, the potential favourable effect outweighed the unwanted toxic side effects. Over time, many improvements in the construction of immunotoxins have been implemented that circumvent, or at least strongly diminish, the side effects. In consequence this opens the way to employ these immunotoxins for the treatment of non-life threatening diseases. One such category of disease could be the many chronic inflammatory disorders in which an uncontrolled interaction between inflammatory cells leads to chronicity. In several of these chronic conditions, activated macrophages, which are characterised by an increased expression of CD64, are known to play a key role. In this review we discus the data presently available on elimination of activated macrophages through CD64 immunotoxins in several animal models for chronic disease. A chemically linked complete antibody with the plant toxin Ricin-A, proved very effective and provided proof of concept. Subsequently, the development towards genetically engineered, fully human, multivalent single chain based immunotoxins that have diminished immunogenicity, is discussed. The data show that the specific elimination of activated macrophages through CD64 is indeed beneficial for the course of disease. As opposed to other methods used to inactivate or eliminate macrophages, with the CD64 based immunotoxins only the activated population is killed. This may open the way to apply these immunotoxins as therapeutics in chronic inflammatory disease.
Keywords: CD64, activated macrophages, chronic inflammation, atopic dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, acute myeloid leukemia, immunotoxins
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