A splice variant of CD44 (CD44v) originally discovered on metastases of a rat pancreatic adenocarcinoma (BSp73ASML) has been shown by transfection to confer metastatic behavior to nonmetastatic tumor cells (Günthert U., M. Hofmann, W. Rudy, S. Reber, M. Zöller, I. Haussmann, S. Matzku, A. Wenzel, H. Ponta, and P. Herrlich. 1991. Cell. 65:13). A monoclonal antibody (mAb), 1.1ASML, to the metastasis-specific domain of the CD44v molecule retards growth of lymph node and lung metastases of the metastatic tumor line BSp73ASML, and can efficiently prevent formation of metastases by the transfected line. The antibody is only effective when given before lymph node colonization. Anti-CD44v does not downregulate the expression of CD44v, and prevention of metastatic growth by anti-CD44v is not due to activation of any kind of immune defense. We suggest that the mAb interferes with proliferation of metastasizing tumor cells in the draining lymph node, most probably by blocking a ligand interaction. The interference with metastatic spread will greatly facilitate the exploration of the function of CD44v and, in particular, may also open new strategies for the therapy of human metastases.

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