To develop a model for the active immunotherapy of human B cell malignancy we vaccinated tumor-bearing animals with a well defined tumor associated Ag, the idiotypic Ig. The tumor used was the mouse B cell lymphoma BCL1, a highly malignant tumor in which transfer of a single tumor cell to a syngeneic mouse is capable of causing disease and eventual death. Varying doses (10(2) to 10(4] of BCL1 cells were given to mice on day 0 of the experiment, and treatment by active immunization was initiated on day 3. Immunization with purified, tumor-derived, idiotypic IgM (BCL1 IgM) coupled to keyhole limpet hemacyanin (KLH) was highly effective in treating mice challenged with 10(2) or 10(3) BCL1 cells, but less effective in mice that had received 10(4) tumor cells. Immunization with unconjugated BCL1 IgM showed no signficant therapeutic benefit. Coupling of the IgM to KLH led to higher levels of anti-idiotypic antibody after immunization; however, the higher levels were probably not responsible for the control of the malignancy as there was no correlation in healthy immunized animals between the levels of anti-idiotypic antibody, measured immediately before tumor challenge, and survival. This lack of correlation is due to the emergence of variant tumors in such protected mice. A more significant factor in the therapeutic advantage of KLH conjugation could be that immunization with BCL1 IgM-KLH led to an earlier induction of the anti-idiotypic response than immunization with BCL1 IgM and, as the BCL1, lymphoma divides rapidly, the speed of induction of the immune response may be important in outstripping tumor cell growth. Mice with BCL1 tumour showed some evidence of immunosuppression as indicated by a reduced ability to mount an immune response against KLH. Although it is not possible to model spontaneous human lymphoma accurately, the generation of a functional anti-idiotypic response capable o eliminating a malignant animal lymphoma in situ opens up the possibility of a limited trial of active immunotherapy in selected human patients.

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