The use of a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies in intraoperative radioimmunodetection of colorectal tumour has been evaluated in 14 patients. Eight patients had primary and six recurrent colorectal cancer. Three different monoclonal antibodies were used included B72.3, recognizing TAG72 antigen, FO23C3 and FO23C5 directed against two epitopes of CEA. The antibodies were labeled with 125I. During surgery the radioactive emission of tumour and normal tissue was evaluated by a gamma detecting probe. Ten patients showed positive intraoperative results and in particular 6 (75%) of the 8 patients with primary tumour and 4 (67%) of the 6 patients with recurrence, with a mean tumour to normal tissue ratio of 2.2. Intraoperative radioimmunodetection was instrumental in modifying the therapeutic approach in two patients with recurrent cancer but in none of the patients with a primary presentation. Immunohistochemical analysis, to evaluate TAG72 and CEA antigen expression, was performed in 13 cases. CEA antigen was expressed in 8/13 cases and TAG72 in 5/13. Thus the sensitivity was 38.5% and 61.5% with B72.3 and anti-CEA monoclonal antibodies respectively, while in combination the sensitivity was 71.4%. The use of a cocktail of different antibodies improved the sensitivity of intraoperative radioimmunodetection of colorectal tumours, when compared with a single antibody injection. This approach might improve the clinical use of radioimmunodetection.
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