Heterogeneity in the expression of tumor-associated antigens, as defined by the binding of monoclonal antibodies, is a characteristic common to most, if not all, human carcinoma cell populations. Antigen-negative cells within the population can escape detection and therapy by their failure to bind the appropriate antibody. Therefore, the extent of antigenic heterogeneity is an important consideration when designing protocols for the management of cancer by administration of monoclonal antibodies. One approach to counteracting the effect of antigenic heterogeneity is the use of clone A of recombinant human leukocyte interferon (Hu-IFN-αA). Administration of Hu-IFN-αA in vivo effectively increased the amount of tumor antigen expressed by a human colon xenograft in situ and augmented the localization of a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody to the tumor site. Concomitant administration of Hu-IFN-αA and monoclonal antibody may thus be effective in overcoming the antigenic heterogeneity of carcinoma cell populations and in enhancing the efficacy of monoclonal antibodies in the detection and treatment of carcinoma lesions.
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