Blocking factors are small polypeptide molecules that may appear in the serum of patients with cancer. These factors block the transformation of lymphocytes in culture to nonspecific mitogens such as phytohemagglutinin or concanavalin A and, therefore, may reflect changes in the immunocompetence of the patient. Blocking factors were monitored during the clinical course of thirty-five patients with cancer. These factors did not develop in patients with response to therapy whereas they did develop in patients without response. A third group of patients without response to therapy after a previous remission showed an absence of lymphocyte responsiveness in culture that was not due to blocking factors, suggesting that immune clone consumption had occurred. Dermal responsiveness to tumor antigen correlated with a favorable clinical course and was usually absent when serum blocking factors were present.
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