Cancer is a heterogeneous disease, requiring treatment tailored to the unique phenotype of the patient's tumor. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and variants thereof have enabled targeted therapies to selectively target cancer cells. Cancer cell-specific mAbs have been used for image-guided surgery and targeted delivery of radionuclides or toxic agents, improving classical treatment strategies. Cancer cell-specific mAbs can further inhibit tumor cell growth or can stimulate immune-mediated destruction of cancer cells, a feature that has also been achieved through mAb-mediated manipulation of immune cells and pathways. Drawbacks of mAbs and their variants, together with the discovery of camelid heavy chain-only antibodies and the many advantageous features of their variable domains, referred to as VHHs, single domain antibodies or nanobodies (Nbs), resulted in the exploration of Nbs as an alternative targeting moiety. We therefore review the state-of-the-art as well as novel exploitation strategies of Nbs for targeted cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-199
Number of pages57
JournalInternational review of cell and molecular biology
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Cancer
  • Heavy chain-only antibody
  • Image-guided surgery
  • Immunotherapy
  • Nanobody
  • Single domain antibody
  • Targeted therapy


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