Idiotypes are distinct clonal markers for B-cell lymphomas. Previously we reported the use of anti-idiotype antibodies in the therapy of patients with B-cell malignancies. Because synergy was demonstrated with the addition of alpha interferon to anti-idiotype antibodies in a murine lymphoma model, we performed a clinical trial combining these two agents. Here we provide an update of the original trial of anti- idiotype antibodies alone and report the outcome of the new combination trial. In 16 treatment courses of anti-idiotype antibodies alone there were seven partial responses and one complete response. In 12 courses of combination anti-idiotype antibody and alpha interferon there were two complete responses and seven partial responses. Substantial tumor regressions occurred with minimal toxicity in both trials even in patients refractory to conventional chemotherapy. Tumor specimens obtained at the time of disease progression often contained a preponderance of idiotype-negative lymphoma cells, suggesting that anti- idiotype antibody treatment exerted a strong antitumor effect against antigen-positive cells. Anti-idiotype antibodies have reproducible objective antitumor activity in B-cell lymphoma. The addition of alpha interferon may improve the initial rate of response to this treatment. Strategies that deal effectively with idiotype-negative lymphoma cells should improve the extent and duration of these responses.

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