In an animal bone marrow transplant (BMT) model that mimics the human clinical condition, we evaluated the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody (MoAb) therapy in eliminating minimal residual disease (MRD) in a leukemic host. Leukemic rats were prepared with marrow ablative but noncurative doses of busulfan (BU) and cyclophosphamide (CY). Two days after syngeneic BMT, rats were treated with MoAb. Although all control rats died of leukemia relapse, 58% of those treated with MoAb were cured without any demonstrable effect on the rate of peripheral blood leukocyte recovery. Furthermore, the level of complement, an important effector in suppressing leukemia proliferation in the normal rat, was not adversely affected by BU/CY, BMT and MoAb. Thus, we demonstrated in an animal model that MoAb therapy may be a useful, nontoxic adjunct to high-dose chemotherapy and BMT in eliminating MRD.

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