Human T-cell lymphotropic virus I (HTLV-I)-induced adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) cells constitutively express interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptors identified by the anti-Tac monoclonal antibody (MoAb), whereas normal resting cells do not. This observation provided the scientific basis for a trial of intravenous anti-Tac in the treatment of nine patients with ATL. The patients did not suffer untoward reactions and did not have a reduction in the normal formed elements of the blood, and only one of the nine produced antibodies to the anti-Tac MoAb. Three patients had transient mixed, partial, or complete remissions lasting from 1 to more than 8 months after anti-Tac therapy, as assessed by routine hematologic tests, immunofluorescence analysis of circulating cells, and molecular genetic analysis of HTLV-I provirus integration and of the T-cell receptor gene rearrangement. The precise mechanism of the antitumor effects is unclear; however, the use of a MoAb that prevents the interaction of IL-2 with its receptor on ATL cells provides a rational approach for the treatment of this malignancy.

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