Tumor diseases can be treated with surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. A new type of treatment that makes use of the antibodies with radioactive substances attached has attracted more and more interest. When the antibodies are injected they have the capacity to wander around in the blood circulation and actively attract tumors to them. In other words, they are target-seeking antibodies. They can even find tumors that have not grown large enough to be detected by other methods. When the antibody binds to the tumor, the radioactive substance can deliver local radiation for a long time.

The dissertation shows that this type of cancer treatment, ‚Äúradioimmune therapy,‚ÄĚ can provide substantial inhibition of tumor cell growth. However, the operative mechanism is not the same as in ordinary radiation treatment. In this case the low-dose radiation is emitted over a long period and activates parts of the cell‚Äôs defense system, which makes cells temporarily stop dividing in order to repair any damage from the radiation. If this doesn‚Äôt succeed, then the cells will try to multiply with damaged genes, which results in ‚Äúcell division disasters‚ÄĚ and ultimate activation of the ‚Äúsuicide programs‚ÄĚ that make the tumor cells die of their own accord. These new methods of treatment are seen as having great potential and have already been put to use for certain tumor diseases.

David Eriksson is a doctoral candidate at the Unit for Immunology and can be reached at phone: +46 90-785 26 67; e-mail: david.eriksson@climi.umu.se