Cancer Home > Alemtuzumab

Important Information for Your Healthcare Provider

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to using this medication if you have:
  • A weakened immune system due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or any other cause
  • An infection, including serious infections (such as cytomegalovirus infection), chickenpox, or shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Plans to receive a vaccination
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Alemtuzumab to learn more, including information on who should not use the drug.)

How Does It Work?

An antibody (also known as an immunoglobulin) is a protein made by the immune system. Antibodies attach to substances in the body called antigens, marking them for destruction by the immune system.
Alemtuzumab is a synthetic, or manufactured, antibody. It works by binding to CD52, a specific antigen found on the surface of a variety of white blood cells, including leukemia cells.
By binding to the CD52 antigen on leukemia cells, alemtuzumab signals the immune system to attack leukemia cells. However, CD52 is also found on healthy cells, so alemtuzumab may signal the immune system to attack healthy cells too, which can lead to potentially serious side effects.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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